Growing a Strategic CEO Brand

By Jeffrey A. Mangus

In 1996, I worked at a large corporate healthcare organization, and one afternoon, we were all called to listen to the CEO speak. It was exciting, as the CEO seemed to be a very approachable person, a man of the people who cared about the company and the employees. My perception was right. As I listened to him speak, he had me with every word. His demeanor, stature, and personalized speaking approach made me realize that he was not only the brand of the organization but also a brand within himself, and that has never left me.

Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” How people perceive you as a CEO affects their sense of security when working with you. Your personal brand is how you convince people to trust and partner with you. It’s not bragging about building a personal brand. It’s not about being self-centered, either. This is your chance to show others how you use your talents to serve them. Personal CEO branding is a powerful tool for shaping your desired career and life. 

Maybe you’re here, and your business brand may be strong and recognizable among your market and audience. But does your target market see you personally as the CEO brand? Unfortunately, not every leader, CEO, or founder has a personal brand that transcends their business. People often overlook it, but it’s worth mentioning that leaders like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, and even Jimmy Buffett were recognized as notable individuals and captains of their industries. They were their own personal brands, standing tall above the crowd. Each has a stronghold on the public, creating a canopy brand not just for their businesses but for themselves, elevating their status and influence. 

As a leader, developing a purposeful image for yourself is crucial. Don’t underestimate its value. While many CEOs gradually establish their own personal brand, having control over it is essential. Otherwise, you may alienate customers and lose credibility with stakeholders, staff, and your target market audience. 

Many leaders and CEOs have various leadership styles, which mirror their companies’ diversity. Some CEOS choose to be part of everything, and then some prefer to sit back, looking at the company’s long-term future from afar while enjoying the scenery. Irrespective of the leadership approach, every present-day CEO, leader, or founder must assume the role of the company’s representative, be the brand, and stand out for the company and stakeholders. You are a leader and the window to your company’s overall health, providing stakeholders, clients, customers, and employees with a real-time view all starts with you.

Being the face of your company is a crucial duty for CEOs of the digital age. Building a personal brand is essential for CEOs to establish credibility, attract opportunities, and influence others in their industry. Without a personal brand that fits one’s style and represents the company’s culture, things can go awry.

Working in business and having CEO roles over the past twenty-five years, here are some essential steps I’ve found for developing a powerful CEO brand:

Understand Who You’re Speaking To.

While your personal brand needs to align with your personality and beliefs, remember that your colleagues, family, and close friends aren’t the only target audience. CEOs must consider their business’s target audience and market sector, as well as what resonates with that group. Who hears what you’re saying? What impression do you want to make on these people? What pain points do you present solutions for? Your personal brand’s perception depends on your audience and who will pay attention. Develop your brand with customer personas in mind.

Integrate Your Values into the Equation.

You may be a CEO, but that doesn’t make you any less human. Your professional brand should reflect your personal beliefs and values. These values are the foundation of your character and guide you in all aspects of life, whether at home or in the corporate world. Always include your values in your brand messaging and ensure it is authentic.

Put your Expertise on Display

Every CEO is an expert in their field. Since you’re the CEO of your company, you know every intricacy that makes you and your company tick. Establish your expertise by sharing your knowledge through speaking, writing, and industry involvement. A book is an excellent game-changer for displaying your expertise. As a leader, your personal brand should cater to your niche experience and expertise. In what field do you consider yourself to be an expert? How can you help those new to the field with your knowledge and experience? What are you passionate about? 

Embrace Authenticity and be Relatable to Others

A personal brand doesn’t just convey leadership competence. Being genuine and authentic helps build trust and connections with others. Use real stories and personal experiences, including struggles and successes, to reveal the person behind the CEO title.

Employing a Strategic Approach to Networking

Networking with influencers, thought leaders, and industry professionals can help you expand your influence and forge valuable relationships. This is an important step, as every networking opportunity is another opportunity to reach more of your audience and further your name brand across your industry.

Don’t Overlook Your Differentiators

You never want to tell the same story. Your goal in building your CEO brand is to shine a light on your differentiator. How do your experience and skills differentiate you from others? What sets you apart from everyone else? Embracing memorability and vulnerability may seem daunting, but it distinguishes you as a leader. Differentiation can spark your brand in a sea of uninspiring corporate terms when executed skillfully. 

Make Sure to Spread the Word Continuously

Consistency is crucial in the branding game. Once you establish a personal brand framework, stay committed to it! Show reliability, stability, and trustworthiness to gain consumer trust. You can do this by updating your branding as time passes, which is essential. It takes time and effort to create a successful brand. Continuous dedication is required beyond social media updates, blog entries, or press statements. 

Just like the CEO who touched my emotions, feelings, and reactions, it is crucial to tap into your audience’s emotions in building a personal brand as a CEO. Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When executed well, CEO branding will make you memorable, trustworthy, and downright likable in your industry. Make your personal brand unforgettable. Your goal is that when your market hears your name, positive feelings of trust, reliability, and skill are experienced and felt. When this happens, magic happens,, and your business and those who depend on you will thank you in the long term.

About Me

“My name is Jeffrey A. Mangus. I work with powerful executives, leaders, entrepreneurs, and new authors who have incredible, life-changing stories and want to put it all into writing their business books or memoirs. Authors I work with have beaten adversity down, survived gut-wrenching challenges, and overcome them to reach the top. I love rags-to-riches stories that show tenacity, grit, and determination. I partner with individuals committed to motivating others, going the extra mile, thinking innovatively, and leaving a lasting impression.

Jeffrey A. Mangus is a 5x #1 Amazon bestselling ghostwriter and author with thirty-five (35) award-winning and bestselling books to his credit. Jeffrey has written for several major publishers, including: Harper Collins Leadership, Harper Collins Focus, Rowman & Littlefield, Tantor, Blackstone, Highbridge Audio, and Audible.