Biz Tips: Why Should CEOs and Executives Invest in a Personal Brand?

Biz Tips: Why Should CEOs and Executives Invest in a Personal Brand?

GROWTH:

Why Should CEOs and Executives Invest in a Personal Brand?

The number one rule of branding applies to you as well, not just your company

“Do I need a personal brand?”

That’s a question I hear from executives often. My answer is always, “Well, you already have one.”

If you have a LinkedIn profile or a Facebook page — and most professionals that take themselves remotely seriously have something along those lines — then your brand exists. It’s your digital footprint. Your persona already exists out there in the blogosphere of the digital universe.

In business, if you don’t define your brand, someone else will. And always to your detriment. That’s the number one rule of branding. Choose your own messaging, your own values, your own definition because if you don’t, one of your competitors will.

The same holds true with a personal brand.

Back to the conversation I often have. People will usually follow up by saying, “Okay, well I can manage that myself.” Yes, you could.

You could also do your own open-heart surgery if you wished. And you’d probably have similar success in doing that.

The reality is this: at the moment, the digital world is filled with all the “bloggers” and “influencers” and other, shall we say, lightweight, non-substance people that cause most professionals to hesitate to jump in.

As my good friend and partner Mark Beeching says, “While the bloggers have the megaphone, all those with something to actually offer shy away. And, as a consequence, aren’t as engaged.”

At the end of the day, you need to be engaged and you need to proactively manage your personal brand. I would suggest you need to have a professional in that space, to (notice the language here) do it with and for you.

Just the same way you wouldn’t do your own surgery, you wouldn’t do many of the things that you could do theoretically. You don’t have the third-decimal-place expertise.

And, quite frankly, it’s not a good use of your time.

The executives that I speak to are busy people, just like you and me. They have value to add to the real people in their lives, not just the online audience who would like to follow along. So, while you stay focused on the bigger picture, actionable and valuable tasks, a personal brand manager can handle the rest and build your online presence to be a reflection of the work you’re doing offline.

I believe personal branding is a long-term trend. I believe that the digital universe allows each of us to be publishers and storytellers and brand builders for our own story. And what is more important to publish, or tell stories, or a build brand about, than yourself?

Remember, people don’t buy products, they buy brands. And investors don’t invest in your company. They invest in you.

You are the genesis of everything that you do, you are your primary asset, you are the thing that makes everything else happen. Why wouldn’t you build a brand around that, particularly if you’re in the C suite, a startup mode, or some other real, old-school definition of a potential influencer?

Personal branding is the reinvention of the old PR industry. I mean, let’s be honest, PR was largely a bunch of folks that were very well connected, (and increasingly so over time) that had influence with the publications, the old school print companies, TV and radio companies, in or on which you wanted to appear.

No one really believed PR, just like no one really believes your resume. No one actually believes the press.

But if you have a personal brand that is increasingly consistent over time, an impressive value-add, and presents you as someone whose opinion is sought after and respected, you can take over that message from those gatekeepers of the old-school media.

Now, I’m not suggesting PR is dead. I’m not going to go that far (yet).

What I am suggesting is that PR is an industry ripe for reinvention, and personal branding is at the tip of that disruption spear. Personal branding is going to be a primary way of engaging in more effective public relations, particularly as it relates to the company or enterprise you lead.

As you can tell, I’m passionate about personal branding. That’s because I know it works.

Yes, it applies to the CEO. Yes, it applies to the up-and-coming C-suite folks. Yes, it applies to the chefs and the artists and the athletes.

If you have something to say, if you have value to add to the universe, or to your industry, then start engaging in a professional, planned, partnered, proper personal brand. It will return the investment of time and effort in spades and is well worth it.

Aaron Webber is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Webber Investments LLC, as well as a Managing Partner at Madison Wall Agencies.

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