Many CEOs are great at supporting the branding initiatives of their organisations. They work for years building corporate brands but during the time that they are employed by their corporations, they forget that they are individuals and therefore brands that are separate from the companies they lead.
Executive branding is not different from corporate branding. The only difference is that You , the CEO or executive is the one that is the subject of interest. Just like Nokia, or Gucci uses its brand to attach a certain personality and uniqueness to its products , your personal brand is made up of the qualities and unique traits you relay about yourself. Your personal brand represents the way you want other people to think about you.
Personal branding hinges on perception and the stories you tell about yourself in the way that you engage and interact with other people within and without your company.
Why should you care about your personal brand if you are a company executive or CEO of an organisation?
Surprisingly, many executive do not actually work on their executive brands . Many executive do not realise the impact that their personal brand has on their businesses. And many CEOs do not build their future brand nest eggs by investing in personal branding activities today.
Your executive brand is the ladder you use to climb above being just another CEO, founder, executive etc. It is the device you use to assist prospects , staff , board members and your community to see you as the person they have been looking for, a leader that they admire.
- A well-built personal brand will help you attract attention from the kind of people you want attention from.
- It will make you a thought leader, and someone who other people and up- coming executives want to emulate, for all the right reasons.
- It will set you apart from other executives in your industry and in your market.
- It will help you develop some notoriety , in a positive sense.
- It is a great way to build a CV, if you are not the owner of your business and you are looking to move sooner or later.
Positioning your personal brand
CEOs, Board members and company executives need to realise that branding is personal as well as corporate. Your brand is competing against the tens of thousands if not millions of people who have similar positions nationally and globally. The way you position yourself relative to competitors is the scaffolding beneath your personal brand. Powerful positioning takes into account the omissions, weaknesses or the boring aspects of those competing with you for attention.
Your brand positioning is seen by your output. ie what you say, where and how to say what you say, what do you do, and where you do it. If you are trying to position yourself as a particular type of CEO and yet your behaviour is contradicting your actions, you will find your brand in a compromised position.
The CEO who says that he has an open door policy and yet uses a separate elevator from staff to get to this office and his secretary will only let you see him if you are a millionaire, investor, or board member.
The executive who says that his department is customer centric and yet he never returns customers’ calls, does not have his 20 most profitable customers on speed dial and does not even know their names.
The HR executive who says that he supports employee engagement and yet he never mixes with said employees and he is quick to dismiss their concerns.
The MD who says she is part of the team and yet she is never seen with the team and struggles to remember her receptionist’s name.
The executives who don’t listen, prefer to abide by their own counsel, assume that they know it all, keep information to themselves, do not dare to develop their staff and feel threatened by staff empowerment etc.
What is your Unique Selling Proposition?
A unique selling proposition (USP) is the one clever tool you can use to create a remarkable personal brand. A unique selling proposition is the different, attractive idea that sets you apart from your competitors. It defines you.
- FedEx’s unique selling proposition is its ability to deliver packages overnight, without fail.
- Domino’s Pizza promises a still-hot meal delivered within thirty minutes, or your money back.
Your Unique Selling Proposition is what do you do that other Executives in your field don’t? How do you do your work, engage your customers , community and interact with your staff and how do you create a trust worthy image that people love.
Your USP is the take-home point; the one-paragraph point of difference made to stick in the minds of your target market and the people who you interact with.
Note that your Unique Selling Proposition has to be genuine, and is constantly supported by what you say and do. It is not your bank account, the car that you drive or the suits that you wear or the house that you live in. These, like your company logo , brochures, company banners, are visual marketing collateral that you use to support your brand position and identity.
Your USP needs to meet these three criteria:
- You can deliver on it
- It’s consistent with your positioning
- It’s something staff, clients, stakeholders actually want and value.
For one on one coaching on executive branding , contact Chipo on email@example.com