The 411 on Personal Branding for CEOs

Forty-eight percent of a company’s reputation can be attributed to how the public perceives its CEO, according to Burson-Marsteller. If you want to influence that perception, personal CEO branding may be the way to go.

What is CEO branding?

CEO branding intertwines the personal and professional personas of the CEO into a distinct yet complementary parallel brand. This updated brand should reflect the personality, voice and values of the CEO. Crafting their brand requires time, dedication, reputation management and heavy strategic involvement from the CEO. But when done right, your efforts can enhance the reputation of both the CEO and the company itself.

Social media provides the perfect platform.

Higher-performing CEOs have more social media accounts and a higher number of followers than lower-performing CEOs and they tend to be more socially engaged, according to a Ruder Finn study. The feeds of high-performing CEOs tend to contain a mix of personal anecdotes and comments contributing to industry-relevant conversations. Or, a CEO’s message could gravitate toward thought leadership.

Although not for everyone, thought leadership can be a natural transition for the CEO who strategically informs the values and culture of their company and has a unique perspective on the industry at large. It’s an opportunity to showcase empathy, insight and resourceful thinking.

Consumers want to hear from your CEO.

Thought leadership isn’t limited to industry topics. Today’s consumers are comfortable with CEOs discussing public issues, especially in their areas of expertise. If activism is aligned with your company’s values, those causes should figure into how your CEO communicates and contributes to the community, online and off.

If you’re looking for ways to differentiate your company, CEO branding could be part of the solution. It’s also an excellent way to earn trust and build rapport with current and potential customers.

Clients often ask me why they should create vision and mission statements for their companies. In many cases, there is confusion as to the difference. The assumption being they are the same thing.

They are in fact two different aspects to a brand. Both are important and are closely tied to each other. Here is how I like to explain it:

Brand Vision is the “end in mind achievement.” In other words what you want your brand to become in 10 years. If the brand becomes this one thing, you know you are successful.

Brand Mission is more like a “special assignment”, the 1-3 year direction of the brand. It’s the path to achieving the brand vision.

Don’t neglect these two critical components of branding. When thoughtfully planned and executed, your vision and mission will be a solid road map to building a successful brand.