Especially in times of crisis, few companies do enough to put a face on the business. The executive suite is the best place to start, because people prefer to buy from a person rather than a brand alone.
Companies spend an enormous amount of time and money on the fine details of their brand. To strike the right tone and build trust with customers, leadership focuses down to the letter on positioning products and services, analyzing market positioning, running the day-to-day business and ensuring profitability. We want everything to be just right. At the same time, a lot of companies overlook or fail to put sufficient emphasis on the personal brand of the CEO and their executive suite. Why are these important people, these essential brand ambassadors, so often neglected when we develop brand strategies?
Need help launching your company’s executive branding campaign? Schedule a free consultation with one of our experts at Mach Media.
Focusing on the personal brand of the CEO is important, and, for many companies, it is a missed opportunity. Particularly during times of crisis, such as we are experiencing now with Covid and its aftermath, it’s even more important for the head (or the heads) of the company to be more visible than ever. It doesn’t have to be the number one; it can also be the number two. But in some way, most companies need to do a better job of putting a face to the business.
Customers expect executives to have a presence on social media and act as brand spokespeople. In fact, three out of four people believe that C-suite engagement on social media makes a brand more honest and trustworthy, according to a BRANDfog survey in the US.
This trust is crucial for promoting a brand. Don’t believe it? Ask the 49 percent of consumers who rely on social media influencers to direct them to products.
What Is Your Purpose?
As the leader, being visible with your executive brand identity is very important, because if you don’t have a brand of your own and people don’t know what you stand for, there is a vacuum – both a brand vacuum and a leadership vacuum. I meet frequently with executive search firms and increasingly they tell me that their clients (whether the Board of Directors or existing company leadership) are seeking CEOs with a purpose. They seek leaders who stand out because they have a point of view, are visible, can communicate, have a strong presence on social media…and so forth.
Very few CEOs can do all that, in addition to running the business. That’s usually because most leaders don’t take enough time to talk about how they run the business. They don’t put a high enough priority on a strong social media presence. According to a Connected Leadership Survey, only 48% of S&P 500 and FTSE 350 CEOs have social media accounts. This is the gap. But in that gap also lies opportunity.
Empathy is a key ingredient for successful branding initiatives. Our COVID-19 Recovery page has the materials to help you adjust your messaging during these trying times.
So What’s Missing?
Many companies lack (or don’t sufficiently prioritize) the ability to pull out the key details about how to run a business and package it into compelling stories. I firmly believe that people will buy something from a person rather than from a brand alone. Corporate leaders know what they’re doing instinctively. They know how to develop products, put together talented teams, innovate, implement sustainability practices and so forth. But they don’t typically know how to tell a story about that expertise. And that’s where we come in.
Mach Media works with CEOs, as well as others at the C-level, to package all of it into an overarching executive narrative. We help them define that narrative, not just for the CEO, but for the entire leadership team. It gives the executive suite complete confidence in their personal brand narrative, so that when they are sitting down for a journalist interview, for example, they are all singing from the same hymn sheet.
How It All Fits Together
Elements we call “message houses” become important; presentation materials become important; the visual identity of the CEO’s narrative becomes important. And how it fits into the overall brand story also comes into focus. Because on the one hand, the CEO is promoting the company. S/he will share social media content, for example, as part of the corporate brand strategy. But what elements of that story can the CEO embrace and make part of his or her personal story, so that it’s all integrated into one engaging and credible conversation? How can the CEO build their own profile and connections with people who may not come into their day-to-day environment?
It requires viewing things from an outside perspective and seeing how you fit in to the overall reputation and purpose of the business, crafting the story, finding the right media to tell it to, amplifying it over the right online channels and packaging it all together. That strong personal brand needs to be integrated into almost every piece of communication, whether internal, external, social, written, verbal…whatever it may be. Even something as seemingly straightforward as a photo shoot of you with your executive committee is super important. It has to be packaged in the right way to resonate and feel credible.
Companies that commit to, and invest in, personal branding narratives for top executives experience a win-win. The executive can confidently rely on and evolve well-crafted message houses over the years while at the helm, and even after they have moved on, whether to a board position or a leadership role at a different company.
The company, in turn, maximizes one of its highest profile ambassadors, in a way that reinforces the related company brand. Today, a personal branding strategy is more than a “nice to have.” It is an essential. And it all starts with identifying and telling the right stories.
Are you ready to skyrocket your company’s communications to the next level? Schedule a free consultation with one of our experts at Mach Media.