You may or may not know it, but you already have a personal brand. The question is, Are you shaping your personal brand so that it aligns with how you want to be known?
Jeff Bezos sums up CEO personal branding well:
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Simple as that. So, what are your employees, clients, and industry peers saying about you?
You have the power to define your image, visibility, and values — to make an intentional effort to influence how the public perceives you. In our increasingly digital world, where anyone can Google your name instantly, the expertise and values you represent matter.
Now, personal branding isn’t just about getting press or building your social media followers. The most powerful personal brands make people feel something. In other words, people want to do business with other people.
Consider a few CEOs or founders with strong personal brands. For me, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, and Richard Branson come to mind.
Love them or loathe them, these entrepreneurs have intentionally curated unique personal brands, and they’ve attracted a tribe of passionate followers along the way.
You don’t need to be an eight-figure personality to influence public perception of your brand. Any CEO or founder can shape their image so that they attract more opportunities with which they align.
The 4 steps to successful CEO personal branding
So, beyond the buzzword, what can you do to build your CEO personal branding today? Start with these four simple steps:
1. Define your audience
Here’s what I want you to remember:
Your personal brand is not about your friends and family members; it’s about your organisation and the people you serve.
That’s not to say your personal brand should feel fake or contrived. Identifying your core values, beliefs, and goals is a crucial step to creating a compelling CEO personal brand (one that we’ll explore further in a moment.)
However, if you want your personal brand to cut through the noise, it’s crucial to build a brand that resonates with your audience. And that starts by understanding their wants and needs.
So, think about your target customer. How do your values, passions, and interests align? Do your customers feel heard and understood? Does the mission behind your brand elicit an emotional response?
Think about Elon Musk. According to Brand Extract, Musk’s personal brand revolves around the idea that “There’s nothing we can’t achieve if we don’t put our minds and hearts to it.” Whether or not you’re a fan, Musk is a clear visionary. And his customers and followers? They want to be a part of his boundary-defying story.
Your goal is to align your core drivers with those of your organisation and target market. Achieve this positioning, and you’ll create a personal brand that builds loyalty and propels sales.
2. Know your talents and strengths
Consider your current skills and the strengths to which you aspire. What sets you apart from other CEOs in your niche?
Put another way, how do you wish to be known? As a leader? A creative? A humanitarian?
You don’t have to put a label on your skills and ambitions, but it can be a helpful way to identify your unique personal brand.
As a CEO or founder, you are already a trailblazer — an expert in your field. So, tap into your one-of-a-kind industry knowledge. Use your personal brand to share your experiences and insights. You might be surprised how your individual know-how differentiates your brand!
3. Consider your values
Your values are the beliefs and ideas you have that influence how you live your life. Everyone’s values are different, but a few common themes include:
- Health & wellness
- Personal development
Let’s revisit the powerful personal brands I mentioned above: Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, and Richard Branson. Each of these individuals has clear values associated with their personas.
Warren Buffet is admired by investors big and small and is open about the pragmatic investment decisions he made to amass his fortune. Oprah is about “living your best life”; she inspires judgement-free self-improvement. Finally, Richard Branson is beloved for his can-do attitude and fun-loving, adventurous ethos.
Again, it matters little to me whether or not you admire these specific personal brands. Your values might be different, and that’s okay! However, I want you to recognise that when it comes to CEO personal branding, your values attract your tribe and impact public perception.
So, pick a handful of core values that you identify with. Think about other people you look up to and the beliefs that inspire you to take action. This list of core values can help, too.
4. Make your brand visible
Now that you have a solid foundation for your CEO personal branding canvas, it’s time to amplify your message.
Be consistent with your personal branding — both your message and your delivery methods. Here are a few easy ways to get started:
- Build a content marketing strategy and share your expertise
- Show up on social media (and don’t be afraid to use video!)
- Use PR for startup tactics
- Record podcasts
- Apply to speak at conferences and events
You don’t need to do each and every one of these things (nor should you) to build a thriving personal brand. Choose one or two action items to start with. Show up regularly, and let your personality shine through!
Building a CEO personal brand is no longer optional. If you don’t curate public perception, your audience will do it for you. So, define your unique strengths and distinctive values. Invite your target market to be part of your journey. You’ll build more authentic relationships and, ultimately, grow your business, too.