Why CEO Branding is Important for Startup Founders

CEO Branding for Startups

Most startup founders spend their time developing a viable product and bringing it to market, which means working long hours. Research, marketing strategy, and product development depend on funds. Startup founders must win investor support during this process, which is why CEO Branding for Startup founders matters.

One of the biggest steps is the development of your startup founder CEO brand. You may feel stretched thin when you’re a business owner, making establishing a personal brand difficult but not impossible.

Investing time and effort into your personal brand will help your start-up succeed: with investors, clients, and your team.

 

Table of Contents

Developing your Startup CEO Branding Story

Your Position in the World

Your Purpose

Your Personality

Your Plan

Why Does CEO Branding Startups Matter?

What Can a Personal Branding Strategy Bring to Your Start-Up?

Credibility

Clients

Networking and Investment Opportunities

How do Investors Decide to Invest in Start-Ups?

Seven Factors Founders Should Consider When Raising Start-Up Money

Consider getting outside help for your startup CEO branding

 

Developing your Startup CEO Branding Story

As you launch your start-up, now is the time to take action on what you want your narrative to be. Below, we explore in more detail what investors are looking for. Having that insight will be key as you begin brainstorming, so more on that later.

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Storytelling is in high demand. Be able to clearly and concisely articulate why you do what you do. There are a few perspectives to consider when developing your approach:

Your Position in the World

Many CEOs envision leaving the world better than they found it. Lots of us are passionate about the environment, safety, and our fellow humans. That’s wonderful, so how can you take that love for the world and transform it into the story of your company’s mission? How would you like to improve the world from your position?

Your Purpose

To improve the world, you need to define your purpose. Many founders start their businesses with a clear vision. But do you know it deeply enough to recite it? Can your entire team articulate it as you do and with the same enthusiastic spirit?

Your Personality

It is important to define your purpose and positioning before you can identify your brand’s personality. A company’s personality is more about how you speak and sound in written copy. It’s about your personality too!

It’s common for your startup to have a direct reflection of the founders at the beginning. A brand voice naturally develops when you are best friends grinding around your kids’ schedules or two college buddies who built from the ground up in a garage.

As your company grows, it becomes a composite of others speaking or writing on your behalf: employees, managers, and contractors such as marketing firms or copywriters.

Anyone you hire must reflect your voice and style the way you want. You must describe your company’s persona as part of the project parameters. How would you describe your company and why?

Bottom line, knowing your company’s personality is as important as knowing your own. You must demonstrate this personality in everything you do and say, ensuring your staff and contractors reflect your vision.

Your Plan

Create frameworks for a ten-year business strategy, a market positioning plan for the next 24 months, and a brand personality. A founding team must establish a consistent company voice and workplace culture, in addition to all the forecasting and planning on the books.

You can have a big impact with these simple, clear frameworks that are easy to follow. Make sure you do these early on and regularly. As a company’s brand evolves, so do its people. Over time, you will grow if you perform these exercises consistently. A company’s purpose, position, and personality are as important to revise as they were when they were first articulated.

Why Does CEO Branding Startups Matter?

Branding for start-up founders plays an important role in a company’s success. Investors and potential customers alike want to know who they are dealing with.

Investors want to know that their money will go toward a company that is honest, accountable, and led by someone with integrity.

Investors want to know that you’ll be level-headed in a crisis and make the right decisions when something goes sideways.

Investors want to know who you are as a person and a leader, as they place their trust in your capable hands.

What Can a Personal Branding Strategy Bring to Your Start-Up?

Credibility

Your start-up will automatically gain credibility if your industry peers recognize you as an expert. This is especially true early in the company’s development.

Your personal brand and leadership style will automatically transfer credibility to your new venture if your name is already established in your industry. Credibility will automatically flow to your company when your personal brand is strong. This will allow you to build your brand faster.

Clients

When you build a strong personal brand, clients may seek you out rather than you and your team having to chase them down. This will save you time and make it easier to generate income. A start-up’s cash flow is crucial. Supporting existing clients is less expensive than seeking out new ones.

Your first clients buy into your vision. They can become brand ambassadors and referral sources.

Over time, building a strong brand will help you acquire higher-value clients. As you gain a reputation as an authority in your industry, your demand will increase, and you can charge higher rates. As a result, your company can grow faster and become more profitable. Don’t forget to take care of the ones who got you started.

Networking and Investment Opportunities

Business plans and numbers are important to investors, but in the end, investors invest in people. A personal brand will help you attract their attention and establish you as an authority.

A strong business plan will also help you stand out to investors when you are approaching your next round of funding. You will be attractive to investors if you have a reputation for being a trusted and influential person in your industry.

Creating a personal brand will broaden your sphere of influence even if you have a niche product or market. Initially, only a few people are likely aware of your expertise and skills. A strong CEO branding strategy will help you become more known.

Growing your network will give you more opportunities for yourself and your start-up. Through your network, you will discover that your professional CEO brand opens up a world of opportunities for you and your business.

In the early stages of your start-up, CEO branding for startups and a strategic communications plan will play a crucial role, even if it is not directly responsible for its success.

How do Investors Decide to Invest in Start-Ups?

Investing is not an altruistic activity. Investors are keenly observant of signals that trigger their investment decisions and indicators of deals to avoid. The road to the investment process is influenced by many factors, including the perceptions of the CEO. Let’s first dive into what investors look at when making their decisions:

Seven Factors Founders Should Consider When Raising Start-Up Money

  1. Passion

Most entrepreneurs are passionate about their ventures. Investors look for evidence that the entrepreneur has made financial sacrifices and commitments for the project to succeed. They look at people who have staked their reputation and money on their project, people who have been repeatedly told ‘no’ and kept going, and those who have triumphed over problems along the way.

  1. Demonstration

An initial proof of concept is required to show investors that the idea is viable. This can be a crude MVP rather than a finished product.

  1. Sizeable market

To attract investors, a beautiful product with limited market appeal will not attract funding.

  1. Team

To convince investors that a team is complementary and efficient for delegating appropriate tasks, it’s important to show they aren’t concentrating risk on one individual.

  1. Competitive edge

If you wish to differentiate yourself from the competition, don’t say, “we will work harder.” Explain how your geographic, cultural, and strategic advantages will help you succeed.

  1. Plan of Action

Make plans for the future and balance empty assertions of IPO within three years with more pragmatic approaches to potential strategic partners. Be aware of unit economics, and ensure your projections are realistic.

  1. YOU

Intangibles like character, personality, and integrity are important to investors. Be yourself, do not try to be something you are not, and always act consistently. A CEO’s job requires all kinds of skills, including seeking feedback and advice.

Think: DRAAFT: Decency, Reliability, Adaptability, Authenticity, Foresight, and Teamwork:

Decency

The ability to build strong relationships with shareholders, investors, employees, and the public can be a key trait of a CEO. For others to trust you enough to help you realize your vision, you must carry genuine decency and care toward them. And that doesn’t just mean being a good person. It’s about demonstrating compassion and understanding and being aware of how different factors impact your employees or the public. When showing your decency toward others, placing the human factor first is essential. Ask people what they think or how they perceive something and analyze their feedback briefly.

Reliability

The best employees must be reliable, regardless of their rank. However, we may promise something we cannot deliver or make the wrong decision when critical. CEOs lose the trust of important people like their employees if they exhibit these behaviors, even once. Reliability requires transparency. That’s the most important quality for a CEO. Those you rely on to ensure the success of your organization will scrutinize everything you say and do, so CEOs must be decisive in their statements and actions.

Adaptability

Being more adaptable involves changing your mindset. Every time you face a change, look at the positive aspects first. We should always keep an open mind and try to see challenges as opportunities. In addition to being naturally adaptable, some people possess structure and predictability. As a CEO, you’ll have to deal with change. If you don’t feel adaptable naturally, experiment.

Authenticity

Personal chemistry is sometimes unexplainable, but it can be beneficial if you click right away with investors. The best way to have this chemistry is to be authentic in your presentation. You don’t have to be overly formal and stiff. Be yourself.

Listen to the ideas of investors who have socially or financially beneficial ideas. They’ll tell you what they value if you listen to their questions and comments. Listening will also help you identify the things that indicate whether or not there is a connection. Talk with the investors, not at them.

Furthermore, watch your footing if you do find that magic. It can be going fantastically, only to fall apart if you tell a joke in poor taste or discuss sensitive topics. Additionally, if you act cocky or boastful, you could quickly hurt your chances of getting a deal.

The bottom line: Be you, be humble, and listen more than you speak.

Foresight

Foresight is the ability to think critically about the future. It’s an invaluable quality for all of us, but it’s even more important for CEOs. One of the most invaluable characteristics of a CEO is the ability to forecast the future and prepare for it. One must practice thinking outside the box for better foresight. Each decision must be weighed carefully by the CEO.

Teamwork

Powerful people often display the characteristic of doing things autonomously, watching everyone else from a watchtower and making their own decisions. However, for a smart CEO, this is rarely the case – it takes the input of many people to make good strategic and people decisions in real life. Almost all CEOs recognize the importance of consulting with their staff. Taking better advantage of the CEO role requires active listening, asking for feedback, and often delegating work to colleagues. CEO should carefully choose the right team members.

Consider getting outside help for your startup CEO branding

Entrepreneurs are occupied with matters that seem more pressing than building their own startup CEO brand.

Taking a start-up from an idea to a viable product to an exit is a lot of work.

The success of your start-up depends on your ability to build your CEO brand. If you do not feel comfortable about promoting yourself, consider getting help from personal branding experts.

A founder’s achievements are often easier to write about if someone else is writing about them. Many founders feel that it’s self-indulgent to promote themselves. Remember, though, that sharing your vision for your start-up and your industry is personal and takes a genuine investment of time. When you share your brand with those who build it, it is easier for them to do so.

About Claire
Marketing Agency, Strategic Communications, claire bahn group, claire bahn
Claire Bahn is a personal brand strategist and the CEO and Co-Founder of Claire Bahn Group. She has been helping high achieving entrepreneurs, investors, founders, and executives create their best personal brand for over 10 years. She helps entrepreneurs leverage their personal brand to develop the authority, influence, and trust they need to exceed their business goals.
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