We’ve all heard of certain companies: GE, Virgin, Berkshire Hathaway, FUBU. And I bet you know all their most famous CEOs’ names, too. Jack Welch, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Daymond John: You know those names thanks to CEO branding.
CEO branding isn’t only for the founder of a company. People like Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks and even Angela Ahrendts — who built such a strong CEO brand at Burberry that Apple elected to make her an offer to lure her away — have all reaped the benefits of CEO branding.
Ultimately, a CEO brand is simply a straighter line to increasing top-line revenue because well-known CEOs get access to more deal flow and bring in bigger dollars. It’s accomplished through the process of getting the right message directly in front of your target audience using a strategic blend of social media presence, speaking engagements, book deals, awards and savvy PR. When executed properly, this strategy will develop your CEO brand and position you as an industry-recognized leader.
CEOs are expected to have profiles on LinkedIn, but trying to have a social media presence across every major social network is a mistake. A scattershot attempt at covering all your bases will be far less effective than a focused approach. Find out which social media outlets your target audience spends the most time using and focus your efforts there. Use those outlets to reach and connect with that audience.
Nothing establishes credibility, and helps build your reputation as an industry expert, the way speaking engagements can. Ask anyone who has ever given or attended a TED talk. When you are physically in front of your target audience, you have the unique opportunity to connect with that audience in a very real, immediate and personal way. If possible, take the time to have a Q&A session after your talk to give audience members a chance to get to know you.
Writing a book and securing a book deal — though not necessarily in that order — is another great way to establish credibility and showcase your expertise in your industry. Adding “published author” or better yet, “New York Times Bestselling Author” to your CV immediately raises your stock as an expert. Books are also a natural launch point for promotional campaigns such as social media outreach and speaking engagements with book signing events.
Getting an award is one of the most powerful demonstrators of trustworthiness. What many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to wait and hope someone will just give you one. Many awards are very attainable; however, you need to apply for them. Finding appropriate awards to apply for can be done with an Internet search or by hiring a firm such as Influence & Co.
Local and national coverage in media outlets such as radio, television, the Internet and even print can help build instant credibility through third party validation. Coverage in the industry periodicals that matter most will also position you as an expert within your field.
No example is clearer in terms of how a well-planned CEO brand can impact a business than that of one of our clients, former NBA player and no. 5 draft pick Jonathan Bender. Bender went from top draft pick to taking a four-year forced retirement due to injuries. Not one to let an injury keep him down, Bender developed the JBIT MedPro, a therapeutic device that not only helped heal his injuries but made it possible for him to come out of retirement and play stronger than ever.
Bender wanted to share his revolutionary device with the world, and so undertook a multi-pronged approach of social media outreach, speaking engagements and PR to leverage his personal brand as an athlete. This strategy resulted in astronomical growth of over 700% in retail distribution over the next six months. Bender’s company has also realized exponential growth of 60% month over month, and established a direct sales pipeline-based forecast of 40% growth through the end of the June.
Building a CEO brand is one of the most beneficial things you can do for the future of your company, as leveraging the CEO brand can accelerate your company’s success. The investment of time you sacrifice strategizing your CEO brand by doing the interviews and speeches is well worth it when you watch the rewards roll in.