Many people do not trust faceless corporations. This is in part because corporate logos are about one-hundred and fifty years old, while human interaction and reading facial expressions is as old as humanity itself. Many companies will utilize advertising to give their brand a face, but what if you don’t have the budget and can’t drop seven, eight, nine, even ten figures on advertising that creates iconic characters, or connects your brand to celebrities? What can you do to humanize your brand using what you already have?
Consumers want to know who they’re making purchases from, and they want to have trust in that person. Consumers don’t want to spend their money with a company they can’t trust. This will be especially true as the economy continues to struggle into the next year, and most people’s budgets will remain tight. Think of ways you can add value for the consumer through personal branding.
Customers are increasingly seeking connection with the companies in their lives. A corporation without a personality behind it will be impossible for most customers to connect with. Your company could radiate trustworthiness, value, innovation, all the positive things you could possibly imagine, but if there’s no human element, customers will still find it difficult to connect without a human presence. Personal branding for CEOs is a great way to put a face to the brand, and add value for the consumer.
Starting with CEO personal branding puts a face behind the comapny. Consumers increasingly view CEOs as public figures and leaders of brands, and 8 out of 10 consumers want the CEOs of brands they spend money with to share their vision and values. Far from being about the CEO’s own ego, CEO personal branding is a powerful tool that gives consumers the connection that they want. Strong personal branding for CEOs can also be a great way to avoid purely leaning on a celebrity spokesperson solution, which includes significantly higher cost to you.
Social media creates an expectation for connection
Social media has only increased consumer’s need for communication with brands. This is the reality that brands have to operate within today. As we all know, consumers expectations often change without the input of companies or executives!
Take a look at how GrubHub completely transformed the restaurant industry. Almost overnight, customers began to expect that their favorite restaurants would be able to deliver food directly to them. The brands that failed to adopt quickly lost market share. Those who did adopt benefitted not only from the increased revenue from delivery, but higher brand recognition and trust.
We see the same thing with social, but on a much larger scale. This is equally true in B2B contexts as it is in B2C contexts, because ultimately what all business has in common the element of H2H (Human to Human) connection. This is the context all business exists in. Because social media makes it possible for consumers to get to know your brand on a personal level, it has become something that many expect, and almost demand. A strong social media presence should be central to your brand.
Social media isn’t something that has to be approached from a robotic sales perspective. See it as an opportunity to share your values, interests, and vision with customers. Focus on garnering connection, rather than directly selling something to someone. Purchases are often made from an emotional place, and preference for one company over another is certainly emotional. Social media is a place where that emotional connection can begin to form.
The CEO is a particularly good person for the consumer to be able to connect with. As the CEO, you are seen as the most important person deciding the direction of the company. Your voice and personality are seen as reflections of all that the company is and represents. Personal branding that emphasizes your humanity can be the key to not only connecting with consumers, but also making a lasting positive impression.
Invest in People
Humanizing your brand means valuing the humans that make your brand what it is. This means focusing on connection with consumers. It also means investing in employees, and making them a part of the brand image. Employees should have a strong sense of what the company’s identity is, and how they are a part of it.
One reason why this is important to consider is that much of your company’s brand image is generated by employees on social media. Think about what a powerful impact your employees can have on your company’s branding as a whole when they share in your vision, and understand what the company is about. Their voices, like your own, are seen as authentic and human. This is taking personal branding to the level of your individual employees. This is why it’s important to value them, and make sure they understand not only the brand, but also social media in general.
Investing in your employees and helping them telegraph the brand identity will only amplify the message that you as the CEO are putting forward in your own social media presence. Unity across all aspects of the brand’s public identity will make the message you’re putting forward more authentic and powerful.
Let customers look behind the curtain Through A Personal Branding Approach
It’s often said that people don’t want to see how the sausage gets made, but this isn’t always the case. Transparency is a huge demand from consumers today. Consumers want to know how the companies they buy from are working. They’re interested in how things happen, and what the motivating values and opinions are behinds companies’ decisions.
When customers see real employees on the company’s official website, this makes them feel more connected to a human presence at your company. It also creates a greater sense of transparency. Rather than seeing stock images of random people, they’re seeing the real employees who make the products and services that they purchase. Showing customers your employees and office space is one small way to give a look behind the curtain.
Responding to consumer questions on social media is another way that this can be accomplished. Don’t be limited to only responding to complaints on social media accounts. Look for individuals who are curious about how your company works, regardless of how small their questions may seem. This can be a way to build a more human rapport on social media, while also sharing a little of the company’s operations with customers.
As technology continues to advance, we will all have to adapt to new ways of connecting to one another in different contexts. One thing that never changes, though, is the need to connect. Strong personal branding focuses on this timeless need, and finds ways to humanize your brand through employees, leaders, and CEOs. Be curious and open to new ways to connect with consumers, and don’t be afraid to show them your authentic self –– they’ll thank you for it.