Dear CEO

To the CEO and Business Leader of the day, days of hiding behind the corporate brand are long gone. Its time to face the public you’ve been long avoiding, and at least tell them something of value.

If you have been shunning new media as a tool for idlers and celebrities; guess what, you will either be compliant or be left behind and wait for technology to work against you. In this information age, your consumers are able to search every other detail about you and soon enough, blogs will be awash with the kind of information you wouldn’t have otherwise wanted to go out to the public. So are you going to define yourself or will you wait upon the world to define you? If I were you, I’d choose the former. Even more scary is the fact that if you don’t define yourself, your competitor’s will do a good job at that, and you will surely not like it.

Creating Authority – Be Bigger than your business

 

Did you know what corporation Donald Trump has been operating with since the 80’s? Exactly, his corporation has been TRUMP and everything he did was intentionally meant to grow the Trump brand. He over invested in his brand, ensuring that the media knew he was an authority to be reckoned with when it came to the sectors in which he was doing business. The result of this is that he ended up in the media more times than any other competitor of his at the time. His highly publicized scandals and bankruptcy were used again to his advantage. In short, the man is a master of self-promotion. All the investment he had made in his personal brand through the years ended up earning him equity by handing him one of the most powerful seats in the world, US Presidency. Arguably, his strong personal brand had so much to do with his election victory. Someone mentioned that in the elections Trump was made to look bigger than the Republican Party such that his nomination ended up looking like an unforgiving takeover of the Republican Party by the Trump brand.

You are the Persona of your Business

Consumers buy people and ideas more readily than they do commodities, something profound said by Napoleon Hill. Leveraging a strong personal brand will help you create trust between your company and your customers. Consumers want to see the person that drives the company. It is therefore important for a company that wants to scale in this age and time to have the head of the company come out in public and be known, to create that relationship with consumers. People want to deal with people, not companies. Why do you go to the same barber every time? Why do you prefer to be served by the same person in your favourite restaurant? Because you want to be served by someone you connect with and you assume understands your needs, someone ‘just like you’. Corporate branding and marketing strategies have tried to personify corporate brands for many years, it has just not worked. A real person has to actually do it, and in my argument it is best if it is the CEO/head of the company. This is the vision bearer and he would do a better job at communicating the vision, beliefs and values of the company to other people. Nonetheless, most heads of companies have refused to work on their communication and public speaking skills and this has greatly incapacitated them. They have left this very important job to their marketing and sales departments. Something I think is a grave mistake.

Communicate your Value and Beliefs Yourself

Steve Jobs was very good at this, he was the one doing the unveiling of every new product that apple came up with. This always provided him a chance to communicate the vision, mission, beliefs and values of the apple company. What was the result of his product presentations? Long lines of buyers in apple stores the following day in a rush to be the first to put the new apple products in their hands. Steve was great at communicating the beliefs of the apple brand and this has certainly built a religious following of consumers that also hold the same beliefs as jobs and apple. Having learnt from Nike’s brand marketing campaigns, he came up with one of Apple’s most successful Brand Marketing campaigns dubbed the “Think Different” campaign.

Be the Face of your Business

Have you realized that you associated a company mostly with the models that did their commercials? Because it is important for the consumer to see an actual person associated with a brand, someone you can relate with. This is however broken when you happen to see the same person on another commercial, and there is the inner feeling that ‘they are doing this just to take my money’. This is the reason traditional ads as we know them will be leaving us soon paving way to content marketing. But this is discussion for another day. Currently influencers are taking the place formerly occupied by models, because influencers already have a tribe that wants to associate with the things they do, again story for another day but influencer marketing is huge, if well thought out and with shared value between the influencer, brand and commodities to be sold. At the end of the day, in the centre of all this it’s a struggle to personify business. Someone I respect in the personal brand Arena, Dr. Talaya Waller has a very profound line “The future of Branding is Personal”.

Something more interesting to see on social media is that CEOs of leading companies have a larger following on their handles compared to the companies they head. Take examples of Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Richard Branson, I’ll give you some homework to compare the number of followers and engagement of their posts in relation to followers and engagement in the social media pages of the companies they lead i.e, Tesla, Microsoft and Virgin Group respectively. Consumers do not seem to trust corporations as much as they would the founders. Reason why it might take comparatively a shorter time to build a strong personal brand and earn equity from it than it would to build a strong corporate brand.

Take Risks, Aggressively Self-Promote Yourself

Richard Branson on different occasions put his life on the line in a bid to bring attention to the virgin brand. This is a risky form of self-promotion to bring attention to the brand he was leading, one of the stunts being; trying to hot air balloon his way across the Atlantic, bodacious or bodacious? In one of the documentaries about Branson, they mentioned that he didn’t have the marketing budget to rival British Airways but he had the nerve to take on life-threatening publicity stunts that really pulled attention to him and the Virgin brand. Although the truth is he also personally got a kick out of the stunts but the intention was to attract attention. Branson is one of the most creative geniuses in branding, in today’s world. He also through time has leveraged his personal brand on numerous occasions to scale the virgin Brand and other humanitarian campaigns and causes that he has personally championed.

The mind, intentions and expectations of today’s consumer have changed a great deal but businesses and corporations have not changed their culture to match this change, reason why most businesses are coming up with strategies that don’t seem to work; the business world today is highly personalized. Choosing to go all out and put your personal life out to the world I would not expect is an easy decision, but if you really believe in what you do and your services for mankind it might not be as hard. With the help of Personal branding professionals, you are able to come up with a Personal brand strategy that can guide how you communicate your value and attract just the kind of people you are looking to serve with your gifts and get value from it too. Guidance is really important when you are looking to grow your personal brand because a lot of details can be confusing and lead you to taking some actions that may end up detrimental to your brand and the company you lead. Find a good professional and start carving your way to greatness!

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