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Executive brand building and why it matters now more than ever

Business man in modern building looking out
Written by
Tara Wickwire

Tara Wickwire

In today’s digital world, executives have far more to consider than just accountability to shareholders. Organizations are pivoting constantly to capture the attention of and build loyalty with their audiences. Except for when it comes to the C-suite. The majority of executives don’t take advantage of building their brands through the channels that mean the most to their audiences. Personal branding has become part of our common vernacular. But what’s interesting to me, is now executives can brand themselves—with the purpose of creating a climate of trust, impressing investors, and ideally, raising the share price and instilling confidence in the organization. So why aren’t more executives doing this?

CEOs and others in the C-suite are an extension of their brand and organization. They have the power to build following and reinforce the narrative based on their actions. Personal brand building should be a priority for members of the C-suite.

Executives need to be thinking about their own narrative and how they want to get it out there. In 2018, it’s not enough to be saving the bottom line.

That said, here are three things executives might be getting wrong when it comes to brand building efforts:

Not delivering content in the most compelling way possible

Thanks to the TEDx movement and the fact that most people’s attention span rivals that of a gnat, you need a presentation that captivates. This includes everything from the technology, the graphics, your gestures, your tone of voice and expression, how you occupy the stage, to what you wear and your message. In your mind, you’re already good, but you can probably be better. After all, a presentation is no longer just a presentation. These moments are shared through social media with soundbites and photos captured as tweets, and the post-event is a bit like America’s Got Talent (i.e. ‘he was pretty good’). But you don’t want to be good. You want to be great. After all, if the content itself can inspire spin off media stories and other thought leadership opportunities, you need to make it count.

“I don’t need social media, I’m the CEO.”

Understandably, a number of executives have the tendency to be more low-key when it comes to online engagement. However, having online presence is an important tool for executives who want to be accessible and relevant, even to observe conversations online and have an understanding of how other brands are telling their stories. Your content must align with your personal values. Want a nice moment? Surprise and delight your audience with an unexpected response or comment. Human connection supersedes data and insights. As the saying goes, people don’t buy from logos, they buy from people.

Not evolving your executive brand

You are innovating your business… You also need to innovate your profile. Update your bio (you’d be surprised how quickly language, details, and roles become outdated) and change your headshot—and the rest of the teams’, too. Your headshot is no longer a resource that lives only on your website and surfaces for your AGM. Your corporate portrait should look current and reflective of the energy of your business. Ditto for your bio. Build new ideas around your narrative. Think about what topics you want to own. How can you provide commentary as it pertains to the topics that matter to your customers? A simple example is Spotify’s former CMO Seth Farbman who connects his own curiosity with Spotify’s business philosophy.

The key in all of this is to build carefully. Develop your content strategically, yet authentically, and commit to what matters to you. And at all costs, avoid exclamation points.

Need advice on how to develop your personal branding and your organization’s narrative? Our branding experts can help you tell your story.

——— Tara Wickwire is a former Associate Vice-President at NATIONAL Public Relations


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