Personal branding assists leaders in distinguishing themselves from other highly qualified executives and helps to define the distinct role the individual sees for themself in the workplace. Executive branding is “the process of creating and building the human-centric personal and professional brand of CEOs, C-suite executives, and entrepreneurs in the context of business growth,” according to the marketing agency Executive Brand Growth. The goal is to create credibility to move your career and organization forward.

The 4 Cs of Branding

Building your executive brand is both an art and a science. Illustrating your uniqueness and creativity is an art, but showcasing it in a way that positions you as an industry leader is a science. “A powerful personal brand has to be authentic, be based on your talents, values, and how you serve other people. This will help people be clear about who you are, both in-person and online and through the opinions of people they trust,” states Roger Delves, Professor of Leadership Practice at Ashridge University.

1. Clarity

Are you a startup looking to get more investors? Or are you trying to get speaking engagements at industry conferences? At the start of the personal branding process, it’s essential to know what you want to achieve through your efforts. Getting clarity involves self-reflection to determine who you are, including how you see yourself, what you’re passionate about, and how others in your circle view you. What makes you unique? Clarity also involves what you plan to do, including your personal mission, vision, and goals centered around your product and personality. Once this is established, ensure your LinkedIn profile and website bio are consistent with your defined persona.  

2. Content

The content you create, promote, and engage with assists in crafting an online persona that reflects your values and professional skills. Storytelling is an increasingly important skill for business leaders, and one great story in the media can majorly impact your brand. Your content should include podcasts, videos, books, blogs, whitepapers, and presentations.

Executives have an influential reach and can connect with 561 percent more people than their business does on social media channels. To promote your content and increase your visibility, become active on social media—LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—and house the content on your website.

Lastly, join social media groups related to your industry and engage with their content by commenting on their social posts or sharing their published content with your network. Guest post on someone else’s blog and make sure they link to your site.

3. Connection

Your content will assist you in reaching a broad audience and marketing your ideas, company, products, and yourself. However, it can never replace human connections because people trust other people more than they trust brands. Creating your content around your values, experience, passions, and obstacles makes people feel like they almost know you personally and develop a much deeper connection and trust.

How often do we see celebrities and public figures using their personal brands to sell products that have little to do with what made them famous in the first place? Take Shaquille (Shaq) O’Neal and Papa John’s, for example, whose relationship began in 2019. Because of his personal branding success, modern pizza consumers see Shaq—a former pro basketball player, rapper, and sports announcer—as a friend and emotional connection and therefore trust his recommendations.

Additional ways to build connections include attending industry conferences and events, serving on the board of an advisory group, and becoming a member of an association. Building a community is a slow process but will provide immense returns.  

4. Creativity

Always ensure that your content is relevant and in line with your company’s goals and mission and highlights your organization in some manner.At the same time, get creative and emphasize your individuality to stand out through a seamless storyline.To accomplish this, you need to create and offer something new and valuable that moves people and grabs their attention. What can you provide in the form of a headline, video, or image that can make someone stop scrolling and read or listen? Utilize your marketing and communications department to help build a creative content strategy and regularly promote your content.

Summing Up

As a C-suite executive, building a personal brand increases your visibility and unlocks opportunities that benefit your career and your organization. In a sea of competition, transparent and trustworthy personal brands are distinguishing pillars of organizational strength and leadership.

In Part II of this feature, we will share why personal executive branding is essential for customer, client, and employee attraction and retention.

This blog was written by TalentRise Executive Search Practice Leader Peter Petrella.