CEO Visibility – A new dimension of branding?
Lesley Everett, Author, Corporate Brand Personality
Have you considered the benefit to your organisation if you were to increase your visibility and exposure to the outside world? Imagine developing your personal brand to a level that makes you so marketable and of such high interest that the invites come flooding in for panel appearances, digital and broadcast media interviews and presentations. How would this make you feel?
If this is not on your conscious agenda, it should be. The personality of your corporate brand is a crucial element of focus if you want to remain relevant, competitive and desirable as a modern day organization. We live in a world that values transparency and the authentic dimension, and the value you and your leaders are able to bring to the brand by being ‘seen’ and heard more is now something that should be considered for the balance sheet too.
According to research by Burson-Marsteller in the US, a CEO’s reputation accounts for 50% of a company’s reputation. In Germany it is 63%. In the highly-competitive and trust-seeking business environment we all operate in, the personality of your brand is perhaps quite simply your biggest differentiator. As consumers or clients we are often used to buying from (and working with) companies where the CEO is invisible, but now we are subconsciously looking for the personality in the organisation in order to feel we know and can trust that company. We’re not necessarily talking about celebrity CEO branding here, but rather a transparent and consistent leadership style and authenticity that staff and clients alike come to trust because it’s refreshing and genuine, and therefore sincere.
Large organisations and SMEs are getting a presence on platforms that they would never have traditionally been invited onto because of their leaders’ powerful personal brands and proven & visible expertise in a specialist field.
In addition to this, the millennial generation is actively looking for a level of authenticity and social responsibility in a company as one of their criteria for bringing their talent on-board. Your brand personality as CEO or as a senior leader can portray this more strongly and more convincingly than any marketing or PR campaign. It is therefore a core consideration for employer brand also.
What's better than having an ‘advert’ for your company than from the brand within? You and your leaders are the best advert you could have for portraying the core brand messages.
So how do you go about addressing this? Here are 5 ways to achieve greater visibility for your brand and increase authentic brand personality in your company.
1. Core authenticity
In order to be effective, a strong personal brand has to be built upon authentic values, expertise and/or talents and a purpose. In his book Authentic Leadership, Bill George discovered that the best leaders are clear about their values, transparent with their values and never compromise on them. You can take people with you along the journey more effectively if you are open about who you are and what you stand for.
Ask yourself, what, besides your job title, do you want to be ‘famous’ for?
What legacy do you want to leave? What do you want all your stakeholders and the outside world to say about you behind your back?
2. Your guiding principles
In alignment with your brand and what you want to be known for, create a set of your own guiding principles in life or business generally that powerfully convey your brand and reinforce your corporate messages too. These can be incorporated into articles, presentations and media interviews.
Punctuate them with stories and experiences of your own to engage the audience more and project an added dimension of you that you’re happy to expose. Remember vulnerability is an endearing trait (in moderation).
3. Enhance your media relationships & exposure
Cultivate a strong media contact list and make yourself accessible, via your communications director if need be. Offer up content and interviews that give you the opportunity to be more visible in your target market, with the messages you want to portray, not just about the business but those that expose your brand and specific expertise and mantra. As part of your media campaign, include events to speak at, panels to be part of and make sure they are covered by social media.
4. Become excellent at presenting
Many CEOs and senior leaders ‘wing’ their way with presenting and often don’t take on a specialist coach in this area. This is a mistake. A coach can help you add charisma and impact to your message and style by working with you on structure, humour, stories and key sound bites.
Your team may not be giving you completely honest feedback on your presentation style, so use an experienced coach for this area.
5. Leading from the top
Your leadership team represents not just the company brand, but your brand as CEO too. Spend some time working on your leadership team brand and ensure that their behaviours too are in alignment with the messaging. You all need individual personal brands, however, collectively, they should complement each other and also support the corporate messages.
Whether we like it or not, the CEO brand projects what the company stands for in the eyes of customers and shareholders. If your employees are proud of you, aspire to be like you and talk positively about you (and the leadership team), it creates a powerful employee engagement element that is seen as critical in most organizations. Employees want to be proud of the leaders in their company when they see them interviewed on TV or quoted in a press article.
In order to get ahead of the competition, you need to get onto this new wave of branding that is ‘CEO visibility’ and invest in enabling yourself and your team to create their personal brand in a way that truly interprets and personifies your corporate brand on the external stage.
In summary, be under no illusion that your personal brand as a leader is not pivotal to the brand of your company. Treat it with the enthusiastic focus and importance you and your company deserve.
World class means having a strong personality that is known over and above your individual products and services. You, as CEO quite simply provide the personality needed.
About the Author
Read more about Corporate Brand Personality in my new book: #corporatebrandpersonality published by Kogan Page Feb 2016.
To order from Amazon - http://goo.gl/j15Iab
Book Lesley for your next conference and see her new demo reel here.