Why CEOs should not overlook the importance of their personal brand

Ken Ungar, Founder & President, CHARGE

Why CEOs should not overlook the importance of their personal brand

As a CEO, it’s easy to focus on the company’s business and not give any thought to your own personal brand. That can be a dangerous oversight, however. If you don’t define your brand, someone else will. And you may not like the results.

Many CEOs simply don’t see the value proposition in spending time building their personal brand. They know it will take work and don’t think it’s worth the time or energy to build, but there can be significant return on personal brand investment.

A strong personal brand for a company’s CEO can help attract consumers and shareholders, reach and earn attention for the company, create an environment that attracts top talent and establish a culture generating a record of business success.

A great example of this is John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile. He creates a ton of positive press coverage for his company thanks to his personal brand based on transparency and directness. He’s very active on Twitter and has an audience of more than 5.5 million. Can you name the CEO of Sprint? How about Verizion or AT&T? He’s embraced T-Mobile’s role as an outsider in wireless and leveraged his brand to help them pick up market share over the last few years. 

So, let’s say you get it. You understand why your personal brand as a CEO is important. Now what? First, you need to have a personal brand strategy.

In a vacuum of information, something will fill that space. If you have a strategy for your personal brand, you can fill that space with meaningful, authentic messages to build a strong brand. Without a strategy, it can be filled by a nasty competitor, disgruntled employee or the media.

It’s also important to understand that there’s no such thing as a “organic” brand strategy. You have to work at it and it won’t happen by itself. Great brands take work to define and position successfully.

Once you have a brand strategy, implement it. Use your personal brand messaging to tell the story of who you are and what you stand for.

Be sure to use tools like social media, your public relations team and appearances to define and project your personal brand. Without action, a strategy is meaningless.

One mistake companies make is not thinking its CEO’s brand is important or that it is the same as the company’s brand. They simply don’t see the connection.

In reality, the company and CEO have different, but related, brands. As CEO, you are the living embodiment of your company’s brand values.

Ignoring your personal brand as a CEO is leaving an enormous asset on the table unused, so make sure you take advantage of your personal brand to have personal and business success.

About the Author

Ken Ungar is the founder and president of CHARGE, a national marketing agency. He’s the author of “Ahead of the Game: What Every Athlete Needs to Know About Sports Business” and has consulted with marquee brands in sports and entertainment.