The Harbinger Group

Three Reasons to Develop a Strong Personal Brand as an Executive Leader

As a leader, having a strong personal brand that promotes your skills, experiences, expertise, and leadership qualities is crucial. It serves as the foundation for building a positive reputation, establishing credibility, and earning trust with your key audiences.

Whether you’re a new CEO or a seasoned executive looking to establish yourself as a leader, our team of experts shares valuable insights and strategies to help you build an authentic, impactful brand that sets you apart from competitors in your field.

1. Why you need a personal brand.

Leading a company means you have significant responsibility and attention focused on you, ranging from your colleagues to the general public. How you present yourself and navigate your role as a CEO directly impacts how others perceive you as a leader and an individual.

By consistently demonstrating transparency you can build a strong reputation and gain the confidence of those essential to your company’s success. Your credibility and trustworthiness as a CEO are shaped by your ability to align your actions with your values and effectively communicate your vision and goals to your key audiences. Building a strong personal brand allows your audience to understand:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What you are good at 
  • Why they should care about your work
  • Why they should want to work with you

2. What does a strong “Personal Brand” look like?

Defining a CEO’s brand helps companies manage and measure that executive’s image and reputation’s impact. A CEO brand consists of two main aspects that make up the company:

  • CEO Image: this is how the professional is perceived by others (Personality and Person)
  • CEO Reputation: A comparative judgment that may change over time based on how this individual performs. (Performance and Prestige)

 

Our organization describes a CEO’s brand as a wheel known as the ‘CEO Brand Wheel.’ This wheel comprises four key components essential to building a strong personal brand.

Three Reasons to Develop a Strong Personal Brand as an Executive Leader

Performance, person, and prestige are communicated through information, whereas personality is shown through language.

  • Personality can explain the type and consistency of personality traits such as leadership, trustworthiness, empathy, etc. Personality also refers to how the professionals carry themselves and communicate with others. 
  • Person relates to physical characteristics such as race, age, and gender, as well as subjective social characteristics, including social status, education level, CEO tenure, founder versus manager, and CEO duality and compensation. 
  • Prestige is how well-known or liked a CEO is by his or her employees and the general public. This can be determined based on the number of awards won, positive and negative press, and rankings—LinkedIn connections, Facebook and Twitter followers, etc.
  • Performance is about controllable and uncontrollable factors that affect the company’s performance. 
    • Controllable factors include company performance, firm strategy, product portfolio, and top management team.
    • Uncontrollable factors include the business environment, overall economy, and industry competitiveness. 

 

Why do we describe this as a wheel? For a personal brand to be effective, all four components must be strong and well-balanced. If any of the components are underdeveloped, the ‘CEO Brand Wheel’ becomes lopsided, making it less effective and impactful. 

For example, if a CEO performs well within their organization but lacks personality or emotional intelligence, they may struggle to connect with their audience. Vice versa, a CEO with a good personality but a lack of business acumen will struggle to establish credibility among stakeholders.

Three Reasons to Develop a Strong Personal Brand as an Executive Leader

3. Getting your Personal Brand ‘Out There’

Now that you’ve established your personal brand, how are you going to portray yourself to your audience? At The Harbinger Group, we work directly with executives and their marketing communications teams to develop message architecture to ensure these key messages are consistently incorporated into all the content we create. This includes social media posts, contributed articles, earned media opportunities, speaking engagements, and communications for any other relevant channels. By weaving these messages into all aspects of the communication plan, our team helps you maintain a cohesive and targeted approach.

In addition to content development, we also conduct media training for the CEO to ensure they are well-prepared to effectively communicate these key messages across various platforms and situations. 

  • Social media: As a CEO, it’s important to identify topics in your wheelhouse—subjects you are knowledgeable and passionate about sharing.
    • “Posting content is no longer about simply promoting yourself. The goal is to establish yourself as a valuable source of information and demonstrate how you can help others,” said Kennedy.
  • What sets someone apart on social media is not just putting yourself out there but providing valuable insights on topics you are well-informed about. You can attract followers interested in what you have to say by showcasing your knowledge and unique perspectives. Credibility comes from demonstrating genuine expertise in your field.

 

  • Pitching contributed content: Contributed content is a way for you to share your expertise in long-form content and reach a wider audience. To begin, develop topics that align with your messaging strategy and identify media outlets that are suitable for your topics and that distribute or broadcast to your target audience. Ensure these outlets allow contributed content and review their editorial guidelines. Then, create the content based on those guidelines and start pitching.

 

  • Pitching podcast and media interviews: When a CEO is properly trained to communicate their messaging effectively, being interviewed on podcasts or by the media is a great way to gain visibility, promote their brand, and establish themselves as thought leaders. These appearances help build credibility and allow the CEO to engage with the audience on a more personal level, ultimately empowering them to connect to their target audience. To get started, choose outlets that match the CEO’s expertise and brand image and prioritize opportunities based on reach, relevance, and reputation.
    • After the interview, track different metrics such as downloads, website traffic, views, shares, audience engagement, and feedback. This will help in evaluating the overall impact on brand awareness and reputation.

Building a personal brand starts with understanding the fundamentals of branding and taking intentional steps to define and showcase your unique value proposition. By doing so, you can set yourself apart from others in your field and open up new opportunities for growth and success.

Remember, your personal brand is a reflection of who you are, what you stand for, and the impact you want to make. It’s an ongoing process that requires self-reflection, consistency, and a commitment to authenticity.

However, there is more to getting your personal brand out there than just understanding what it means. Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post that teaches you how to take your personal brand and properly promote it on social media.

To learn more about how we can help you build and showcase your personal brand, visit our website and explore the Executive Visibility and Reputation Management services we offer. Our team of experts is ready to connect with you and guide you through the process.

For more insights on personal branding, listen to episode 28 of, “Can You Hear Me?” titled “The Importance of a Personal and Professional Brand,” featuring guest Kraig Kann, an Executive Branding & Presentation Skills Coach.