Executive brand ROI measures and maximizes the impact of your executive brand, driving unparalleled corporate success. Get ready to learn more about how your executive personal brand can take your organization to the next level.
A personal brand is the most powerful professional tool in the digital marketing age.
As competition fiercens and attention spans shorten, professionals across backgrounds — from freelancers to C-suite employees — are beginning to see the benefits of building a solid personal brand.
What do I mean by personal brand?
In simple terms, it can be described as a CV, with a difference.
Much like a résumé, a personal brand lists an individual’s skills, training, and experience levels. Unlike a CV, however, it also communicates identity — the values, philosophies, and ideals of an individual that differentiate them from their peers.
Research has suggested that building an executive brand is as valuable to an organization as the thousands of dollars spent on marketing its products.
For instance, a study by Weber Shandwick points out that 59% of customers believe a CEO’s personal brand is crucial to deciding whether they will buy a particular product or avail of a service from an organization.
This critical statistic proves beyond a doubt that a CEO’s reputation isn’t just a tool to gain followers but a leverageable corporate asset.
That said, an executive brand remains a highly underrated tool.
Barring a few big names from the tech world, executives struggle to make the most of how much it offers in terms of tangible returns.
In this blog, I’ll attempt to break down the ROI of a powerful executive brand and describe some ways I think you, as a C-suite employee, can maximize your returns or consider using a personal brand strategist to get started.
Table of Contents
Before discussing returns, let’s take a minute to understand the “investment” aspect of the term a little better. What exactly does an executive have to invest for their brand to be considered successful?
The answer, I would say, lies in two words — time and effort.
Building an executive brand isn’t an overnight process. It’s one that requires immense self-reflection, consistency, and the ability to resist aimless self-promotion while offering actual value.
Most CEOs, whether they’re aware of it or not, already have an executive brand. Every decision they make, initiative they put forward, or employee they hire sends a message to customers, and peers. Transforming this message into one that reflects solid returns, once again, takes time and energy.
The question here is thus:
What should an executive focus their time and energy on to maximize their ROI? Some areas I find especially important to consider include the following:
Once you assess where your current brand falls in the larger scheme of things, the best use of your time is figuring out how to redefine and streamline this strategy.
Some questions worth asking here are: Who is the target audience of my brand? Is my goal to appeal to customers? Other entrepreneurs? Investors? Or do I want to establish thought leadership by getting book contracts and an online following?
Answering these questions goes a long way in creating a brand with a solid and compelling mission statement. This, in turn, can help maximize the ROI.
As of 2023, more than half the global population uses at least one social media platform. Building up an online presence can, therefore, be one of the most valuable uses of a CEO’s precious time.
A survey by CEO Hangout suggests that over two-thirds of customers are more likely to buy products from a company whose CEO is active on social media. Meanwhile, over 80% are likely to trust the organization more.
Investing in an executive brand could include leveraging all that the online world has to offer — whether it’s social media, blogging, podcasting, or creating the perfect website.
That said, there is a distinction to be made in what this online presence promotes. While a brand’s online identity can focus on pushing products and improving sales, a CEO’s online presence could instead focus on highlighting the values of the people who made the product and promoting the company’s vision among customers.
An executive brand cannot — and should not — be built in a vacuum.
If you’re looking to build a positive executive brand, you must consider devoting some time to networking with like-minded individuals by attending conferences, events, or seminars, for instance. This can boost your image as a thought leader and help you build long-lasting relationships with your peers.
Over 80% of professionals believe that consistent networking leads to career success. Consistently providing value to your professional network, collaborating with industry leaders, and establishing yourself as a person with trustworthy insights is one of the best investments that you can make to improve media visibility and credibility.
Some time and effort must also be invested in measuring the current effectiveness of your brand. This could involve any of the following actions:
- Setting certain KPIs to track your brand’s effectiveness.
- Using tools to track your online presence and engagement levels.
- Identifying strengths and weaknesses based on feedback.
One of the main reasons I believe that CEOs don’t make the most of executive branding is that they expect to see significant positive changes immediately.
The truth is that these changes take time. Think of it like a retirement fund. The amount of time you invest into building a brand directly impacts your returns.
To truly succeed, you need to put in the effort to learn more about your audience and understand their pain points. You need to create content that helps them solve their challenges. Think of your ROI as the eventual reward for consistency.
What exactly is categorized as a “return” when it comes to an executive brand?
In marketing terms, a return on investment refers to both the monetary and non-monetary benefits you get from promoting a particular product.
This works similarly for an executive brand — but only on the individual level. An ROI, in this case, can impact your organization’s net profits and improve your reputation among customers, peers, and various stakeholders.
When an executive brand effectively communicates its vision consistently and through the right channels, it can immediately impact an organization’s bottom line. This return is generally seen when tracking the following metrics.
Increased Business Leads
Traditionally, business leads were generated through paid advertisements and various marketing tactics — such as cold calling or emails. However, a solid executive brand is one of the most effective and affordable ways to generate new leads.
Weber Shandwick’s research noted that 83% of executives surveyed said a strong brand helped them get more media attention. These eyeballs, in turn, lead to increased brand awareness, a more positive reputation, and returns in the form of profits.
A Growing Audience
The improved credibility and trust that comes with a solid executive brand also help an executive’s target audience grow. Furthermore, it can influence opinion among this audience, as it highlights your vision for the company. This can help you strike more deals, find new niches, and significantly add to the company’s profits.
A point to note here is that as a CEO, you don’t necessarily have to be an expert on every topic under the sun. Instead, consistently relaying relevant information and crafting engaging content is enough to grab the attention of peers and industry leaders with a strong executive brand ROI.
More Funding and Investment Opportunities
It’s known that funders research a CEO thoroughly before putting their money on the line — whether it’s looking up LinkedIn profiles or analyzing press interviews.
Startup entrepreneurs who invest in building a strong executive brand are more likely to be visible in this research, making this point one of the most crucial financial returns.
In fact, I would go as far as saying that an executive brand is almost as crucial as overall sales in attracting investors. Nearly 90% of executives surveyed agree with me.
That said, the ROI of an executive brand isn’t just associated with immediate financial benefits. While making money is, of course, an essential reason for going through the whole process, an executive brand can offer so much more. When assessing your returns, don’t forget to take into account the following:
Attracting Top Talent
An executive brand has an impact on the inner workings of an organization, too.
A visible and respected CEO makes the company a more attractive place to work, thus improving talent and company culture. As many as 77% of all executives say building a positive image has helped them attract employees.
Furthermore, a study by the Society of Human Resource Management says companies with strong employers are three times more likely to retain high-value employees.
Increased Personal Reputation
A strong executive brand ROI can also reflect your rising status — taking you from successful entrepreneur to visionary, mentor, and thought leader.
This recognition, in turn, results in more visibility and opens up more opportunities for you to share your insights with your peers.
These new opportunities could reflect in you being invited to more speaking engagements — from events to workshops to industry-specific podcasts.
Significant Impact on Career Moves
While I’ve mentioned some returns an executive brand can have for the company in general, I cannot stress how much it benefits the individual, too.
Executives who are seen as more credible are more likely to get job offers from new companies, as well as the upper hand on the negotiating table.
Don’t just take it from me — according to a survey by ExecuNet, 94% of executives believe personal branding is important for furthering their careers. Many hire personal brand strategists to get the ball rolling.
At the end of the day, either of these points, whether they result in immediate financial benefits or not, are good metrics to judge the effectiveness of an executive brand.
Now that we’ve individually identified both the investment and return aspects of an executive brand let’s shift our attention to how to maximize its ROI.
One thing that should be clear by this point is that, as an executive, you are as much of an asset to the organization as the product or service you offer. As a result, as you would with any other marketing strategy, you must measure and reassess your executive brand until you have achieved your goals.
Instead of worrying about how long it will take to see results, focus on maximizing your ROI by building your authority and sharing useful content among your target audience. This will help build more trust and improve the opportunities that come your way.
Here are some tried and tested methods to help you along this journey.
I briefly mentioned the benefits of building an online platform when promoting your brand. This is one of the most effective ways to boost the ROI of an executive brand, as well. The more you stick to one platform, the bigger the audience you’re missing out on influencing.
If you notice that the brand you’ve spent months trying to promote isn’t offering many returns, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Analyze what your competitors are doing better than you, and reach out to peers whose opinions you respect and value. Often, the solution is obvious but just requires some outside perspective.
Sincerity is an often undervalued trait — especially among C-suite employees who are only too eager to boast about their achievements. But if there’s anything that audiences and shareholders value above all else, it’s authenticity and transparency. If you’re struggling to see significant returns on your ROI, maybe it’s time to consider a change intact and present yourself differently.
At the end of the day, I’d advise you to ask yourself some of these crucial questions:
- Are you getting in front of your audience and building their loyalty?
- Are you getting in front of the journalists who can tell your story?
- Are you getting on the right podcasts and speaking engagements?
- Are you controlling the narrative, or is someone else doing it to you?
- Are you getting industry recognition, or is someone else overshadowing you?
The answers will reveal a lot more about your current strategy and whether you’re making the most of your executive brand.
The role of an executive as a marketing tool cannot be underestimated. But, at the same time, a great deal of work needs to be done to get it right.
Not only must an executive brand appeal to a diverse audience through a number of formats, but it should also do so while establishing authority, appealing to funders and stakeholders, and being authentic and honest.
However, executive brand ROI of a positive brand is too good to resist — more talented employees, better respect and visibility for your organization, and a growing audience of customers are just some of the benefits you can expect to see.
All it takes is a little time and effort.