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The CEO: Personal Brand, Thought Leadership and Visibility Have Never Been More Important


The CEO: Personal Brand, Thought Leadership and Visibilty Have Never Been More Important

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The role of personal brands has never been more important in shaping the image of an organization and garnering visibility. In today’s landscape, “celeb CEOs” are taking charge of bolstering their company’s credibility by optimizing thought leadership and using their own identity to keep the brand relevant.

Take a look at entrepreneur and founder of Tesla Motors and Space X, Elon Musk. Aside from pushing Tesla as an emerging automobile designer and manufacturer, Musk embodies what it means to be a thought leader and disruptor in his field. Another example is Steve Jobs, former CEO and co-founder of Apple and one of the greatest visionaries in technology and creativity the world has ever seen. Even Donald Trump, a real estate tycoon and presidential hopeful, has masterfully branded himself as the embodiment of a successful American business man.

Despite operating in completely different business worlds, these three “celeb CEOs” share a few common characteristics. Specifically, they position themselves at the forefront of the issues facing their industries by speaking about them in the context of what their company is doing to innovate and meet the needs of their customers and society as a whole.

In the quest for CEO visibility, there are several considerations to think about when fine-tuning an executive’s personal brand.

Put in the time. 

CEOs should be willing to invest the same amount of time in media training and brand exposure as they would courting a business prospect. CEOs and other C-suite executives must tackle, or at least discuss, issues on the front line of their given industry. Becoming the face of their company and a thought leader for different audiences to turn to for insight is key. For example, while the chief executive of a registered investment advisory firm could weigh in on millennial investing trends, speaking to major developments in the financial services industry on how robo-advisers are disrupting the space and how their firm is evolving given industry shifts would make a stronger impact. When you inject your CEO into broader industry conversations, personal brands emerge with authenticity and credibility.

Connect with your audience directly. 

Contributing regularly to their company blog helps CEOs maintain a connection with an audience that already has a vested interest in the company. The beauty of blogging is that you control the conversation. Generating content straight from the “horse’s mouth” has a two-fold effect. On one hand, blogging provides CEOs with a platform to strengthen their profile and voice while advocating for issues and engaging in meaningful conversations. On the other hand, frequent posts validate an authenticity with their audience that desires direct access to the higher-ups. Frequent blogging and a social media presence strengthens the CEO’s personal brand by showcasing their expertise directly in front of relevant audiences.

Become your brand. 

Making a CEO’s name synonymous with their company’s brand and its mission demonstrates commitment and builds credibility. Take Sallie Krawcheck for example, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, a robo-adviser specifically tailored to women’s investment needs. Throughout her financial career, which has included management positions at Bank of America and Citi Global Wealth Management, Krawcheck has dedicated herself to opening opportunities for women in finance. By immersing herself in the conversation regarding “women and investing,” she built an authentic personal brand aligned with the cause. Krawcheck’s experiences and goals in her career allow her name to be synonymous with women and investing issues, therefore, boosting her authority as a key stakeholder in the overall conversation.

Using a CEO’s personal brand to heighten the visibility of an organization plays a vital role in marketing success. By remaining true to advocacy interests, speaking to various audiences on larger industry issues and maintaining a “voice” via blogging and social media, executives will build their brands with industry peers and, most importantly, clients and consumers.

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