Build the brand called “you”.

Whether you like it or not, if you are a Leader, particularly while being the CEO of a company, you are building your personal brand. Every day. I would risk saying that almost everything about you matters as long as the image you create intentionally or not is concerned. The way you dress, the way you smile or talk. The way you treat others or what kind of a mood you are in on a given day.

All these above define who you actually are. If you display a positive approach, you send the message to the world: “everything rocks”. If you have had a tough morning or just have had a bad mood for any possible reason (obviously not a professional one at all) the message you send to the outside world is: “ooops, there seems to be some trouble”.

The chances are that you already have some kind of a personal brand right now. But what exactly is this personal brand all about? Following Jeff Bezos – your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. So, it looks like if you choose not to manage it actively, your Team will project your own brand, anyway. That is why it may be a lot more beneficial to take the reins and steer the image you reflect in your Team’s eyes actively.

This issue might be approached from different angles. You can find many different tips, key success factors and TOP “reasons why” your image is increasingly important to promote you as a credible and mindful Leader.

From Mark Zuckerberg to Elon Musk, brands are now intrinsically linked to their “people”. According to a study by Brand Builders Group (2022), 82% of all Americans stated that “companies are more influential if their executives have a personal brand that they know and follow.

In the same research it was discovered that in fact, 82% of consumers are more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership Team engages in social media. And the benefits of executives building personal brands extend to the employer brand and Team morale, as well. 81% of employees believe that CEOs who engage in social media are better equipped to lead companies in the web 2.0 world. These facts and figures are hard to be disputed.

“If I google you and nothing comes up, that’s a red flag,” says personal branding expert, Founder and CEO of Black Marketing – Chris J ‘Mohawk’ Reed. He argues that a personal brand has now become the most important aspect of someone’s career – more important than experience and qualifications. I wouldn’t go that far, but I also think that it should at least be considered.

When it comes to CEOs and you bring up the phrase “personal branding”, there can be an initial negative reaction. The reason this phrase tends to generate recoil from leaders is because they have seen many that have approached their personal branding in an egocentric way. If you approach it in that way, the challenge is it comes off as inauthentic and turns your consumers away.

So, when I mention personal branding as a CEO, the goal is not to lead with ego – it’s to make a bigger impact as a thoughtful and mindful leader in your industry. An authentic, compelling, and strategic presence. The person who inspires others to join the journey.

I would point even further! When it comes to personal branding, you can’t be a generalist. Stick to your niche, subjects that you know and are passionate about, so you can provide authority rather than adding to the noise only. Ask yourself what you’d like to be known for when you’re not in the room. The answer may not directly aligned with your industry or the products and services you offer, however it should not conflict with company values.

What is the most important, in my view, is the coherence of your internal and external presence. Authenticity is the biggest key success factor whatever you say and do. Keep in mind that when it comes to standing out above the competitors, your personal brand can be nowadays a key differentiator. Whether you like it or not, it’s good to at least be aware of those facts.

I am still learning to go out of my comfort zone in this area. I am striving to build my personal brand in a conscious manner – like being present in social media and writing this blog. However, I am not ready to announce it and make use of everything I know about the digital world utilization to disseminate it yet. Why? I am still experiencing the feeling of being intimidated thinking that I am still too inexperienced to pass on something substantially wise. Against all odds, knowing how important managing your personal brand is, I will keep moving and wait for “my moment” hoping that it will come one day, just by itself.

Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

– Jeff Bezos,