Executive brand building is essential to your company’s success. Having a strong online presence is no longer optional.
Building an online presence is the key to success. That’s true whether you’re a freelancer looking for lucrative job prospects or a C-suite employee looking to promote a product.
This social media presence goes a long way in defining what is called a personal brand — a collection of ideas, philosophies, and values that professionals live and work by. For senior employees, this is called an executive brand.
A strong executive brand helps senior employees accelerate their career trajectories while simultaneously promoting the company.
This is not just speculation — it’s a fact.
A study by eMarketer, for instance, suggests that three-quarters of all consumers are more likely to buy a product when the company’s CEO uses social media. Furthermore, a survey by CEO Hangout indicates that 82% are more likely to trust a company when senior execs are active on social media.
Given that, it’s surprising to see that all C-suite employees haven’t already crafted an executive brand.
It takes time. Executive brand building requires a great deal of introspection and consistency. But the long-term benefits are well worth the investment.
So, where do you begin?
In this blog, I’ll give you a better understanding of what an executive brand can offer you, as well as some tips on creating one of your own.
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Many companies have approached me in the past, asking for assistance in building the brands of their top-level executives.
At the same time, several others have questioned the importance of an executive brand, wondering why a company would spend its resources on an executive who may not stay with them forever.
There is some validity to these concerns.
However, what the second group of people doesn’t consider is the fact that executives with strong personal brands draw in more customers, high-value employees, and investors much more effectively than a generic company brand.
In fact, trends show that consumers are getting more skeptical of nameless and faceless organizations and are increasingly drawn to personalities. People like to buy from people.
Research by Accenture, for example, has found that 60% of consumers in the United States base their purchasing decisions on the company’s executives’ values, words, and actions.
In light of this, several companies have been reviewing their return on ad spend (ROAS) and turning their attention toward their CXO’s branding. They have found that a powerful executive brand has a “halo effect” that can benefit the whole company.
CEOs and other top-level executives also stand to personally gain from executive brand building. In fact, the concept of a “business reputation” has slowly made way for that of an executive brand. Working on building this brand can go a long way towards:
During executive brand building, executives are encouraged to share their knowledge and expertise on industry topics most relevant to them. The net result is that they will be seen as thought leaders and experts in their fields. They could use this influence to shape trends, sway opinions, or create new markets.
C-suite employees can better communicate their expertise and showcase their work within a more extensive professional network. This not only gives individual employees clarity on their strengths and weaknesses but also enables them to gain a steady following among like-minded peers and expand their professional networks.
All these benefits eventually come together to ensure that a C-suite employee with a strong executive brand becomes more valuable to a company. This puts them in a position to negotiate better salaries, attract top talent, and bolster job security.
Executives who leverage their own brand will also be able to use their online following to generate more revenue streams and influence opinion on a larger scale. This, in turn, will help them find more lucrative job opportunities.
As more executives recognize the impact of a robust executive brand, we’re left with an important question: What is the most effective way to build a brand?
A clear executive brand should technically be able to raise your messaging above the noise of social media — and the internet in general — and put you front and center in the awareness of your target audience. Here’s how you can begin.
Most CEOs already have an executive brand. They may not necessarily realize it, but every decision that’s made, or every employee that’s hired, tells an audience a story.
One of the best ways to assess your pre-existing personal brand is by evaluating what already is known about you. Google yourself, read articles about your company, and apply some course correction methods based on what you find.
During your research, consider points like:
- What is the first headline that pops up?
- Do you have an online presence at all?
- Do you like what you see?
The focus of your executive brand could be tailored accordingly.
If you’re known for showcasing exceptional expertise in a particular field, double down — you can improve your visibility on the topic by appearing on podcasts about the subject or writing articles in relevant publications.
During this process, don’t forget to check in with your industry peers — their advice can go a long way in helping you understand how to assess your executive brand better.
What is the purpose of the brand you want to build? What is your USP?
As we’ve discussed, there are several benefits to executive brand building. Depending on which is most important to you, the goal of an executive brand can be tweaked.
- Do you, for instance, want to build a brand that draws media attention and gets you invited to a podcast?
- Do you want your brand to increase sales revenue for a company?
- Do you want your brand to land you promotions?
- Or do you want to simply be known as the go-to person in your industry?
Answering these questions is a crucial step on your journey as it helps you focus on your brand mission and identify differentiators to help you stand out from the crowd.
- Who is the audience you want to cater to?
- What media will you leverage to share your expertise?
- How will you make the most of these platforms and your content?
These are just some of the questions that you must consider when you begin crafting a statement for your executive brand.
One of the biggest mistakes executives make at this phase is being too vague in their messaging or not fully understanding their target audience’s pain points.
One important point to note here is that executive branding isn’t just a form of self-promotion. The goal here is not to build a “celebrity CEO” persona.
Instead, it’s about using multiple channels to share expertise and experience with your target audience. Help your followers overcome challenges, and provide answers you wish you had when you first started out in your career.
Making this distinction during the early planning stage will help you build a powerful executive brand that will enhance your and your company’s prospects.
Once the groundwork has been laid, it’s time to maintain and promote your new executive brand across platforms. Apart from maintaining consistency, it’s essential that your brand is bringing actual value to your target audience.
Take note that in the current climate, negative sentiment spreads quickly. This could have a serious impact on a CEO’s credibility.
Executive brand management is thus more important than ever.
Meanwhile, the benefits of consistently keeping a positive CEO reputation, as per a survey by Weber Shandwick, include attracting investors (87%), positive media attention (83%), and positive employee attraction (77%).
So here are some ways you can keep your reputation up and maintain your brand.
You may realize during brand building that your potential audience frequents more than one platform at a time. This is why trying your hand at several platforms is essential to reach a more diverse audience.
This doesn’t just refer to social media platforms but also includes increasing your offline visibility by writing books, for instance, or speaking at events.
When you limit yourself to a particular platform, you’re not making the most of all the tools at your disposal.
Evaluating your success on these platforms is also crucial. That begins with measurement. More on that below.
Suppose you’re not gaining followers on platforms like Facebook, for instance, but are generating a lot of interest on LinkedIn. In that case, it may be better to switch focus to getting the most out of one platform rather than having minimal impact on all.
By studying audience insights and engagement levels, you can avoid investing time in perfecting content on platforms that offer you nothing in return. Double down on what works. Cull what doesn’t.
More than half the world uses social media in some form or the other. As a result, the platforms are constantly changing and updating themselves to meet the demand.
Similarly, your executive brand must keep up with these changes — whether they may be specific to an industry or a particular platform.
To analyze the former, keep up with your field’s latest research and trend reports and tweak your content and offerings accordingly. This will help you match the interests of potential clients and show your audience that you are an expert in your field. It could also involve broadening the scope of your executive statement.
To properly keep up with the latter, pay attention to the latest viral trends and conversations on social media and adjust your content accordingly.
Take, for example, YouTube’s Shorts. It’s a relatively new feature and one that hasn’t fully been explored by content creators. Meanwhile, those who have leveraged the format are managing to stay ahead of the game — within their specific niche, at least.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when executive brand building is trying to work in a vacuum. Sure, your ideas are often great, but that doesn’t mean your peers have nothing to offer.
If you want to establish yourself as an authoritative source, you need to borrow insights from fellow industry leaders and build on them. Share quotes and statistics that influence your company’s vision. Collaborate with like-minded peers to offer your audience more valuable resources. This kind of collaboration is the best way to establish yourself as not just a social media influencer but a thought leader.
While connecting with peers online is beneficial, you could also look beyond. Take networking a step further and physically attend conferences, events, and seminars. Most top-level executives agree, after all, that corporate events give them a “wealth of networking opportunities.”
At this point, you’ll find it hard to maintain an executive brand if you aren’t properly measuring the impact of all the hard work you’re putting in.
Keeping up with the trends and building a brand that stands the test of time requires a lot of reflection — and the support of cold, complex data.
So, how do you correctly measure the success of an executive brand? You could begin by:
Factors like engagement, reach, and conversions are vital to understanding the effectiveness of your brand. There’s no point investing this much time and effort if your content is falling on deaf ears, after all.
This is why, I argue, it’s crucial to set a few key performance indicators at the outset and continually track your brand’s effectiveness. These goals should be realistic and align with your larger vision as a CEO.
Tracking your online presence has become almost too easy these days. Several tools let you look into web analytics and social media metrics and collect information on your executive brand. While tracking likes and comments is straightforward, deeper analysis can be carried out with the assistance of certain third-party software.
By monitoring what is said about you and your brand online, you can tweak your strategies and deal with any negative sentiments before they get a chance to grow.
Armed with all this data, it’s time to return to the planning table to reflect, refine, and repeat. Use this research and analysis to identify strengths and weaknesses and alter your strategy based on feedback and market trends. When you allow yourself to relearn, you can go a long way in building an efficient executive brand that will stand the test of time.
An executive brand has so much more potential than a CV. It allows you to increase visibility and network more effectively and gives you a platform from which you can showcase your skill set and gain more credibility.
It’s no wonder that most of the world’s most well-known CEOs — such as Elon Musk or Richard Branson — work so hard on executive brand building. It’s also no surprise that these executives are highly successful at what they do and that their businesses benefit as a result.
Once you follow all the tips outlined in this blog, you’ll only be limited by your creativity and how much time you’re willing to invest in the process. If doing it on your own seems intimidating, a personal brand strategist is a great alternative! So, what are you waiting for? Claim your seat at the table of the world’s leading executives by building your own brand today.