The alignment of personal and company brand has become an integral part of a modern marketing strategy. This approach necessarily includes the entire C-Suite of executives. In this day and age all executives have both external and internal opportunities to build their personal brand. However, it is important to unpack the different roles of the executive team and take this into consideration when building on each leader’s personal brand. What is right for the CEO won’t necessarily fit the CTO. Here are some basic structural suggestions for building the personal brand of your executives according to their role and at the same time balancing it with their strengths and their authenticity. There is never a one size fits all, however, this may spark some ideas.
The Chief Executive Officer personal brand has to align with the leadership role of the CEO. This means vision, action, and visibility. The CEO personal brand must have components that are both internal and external to the company – speaking to all of the many constituencies of a company. The CEO can also take the lead in developing the executive team brand – the way that the team as a group functions and appears to the company and to the public.
The CEO brand can be developed in multiple ways. Externally the CEO can write, speak, appear on panels and take other actions to acquire talent for the company and spread the company brand. Internally, the CEO can use communication mechanisms to inspire existing team members and partners through brand evangelism. Working together with marketing, the CEO can also show leadership and help the rest of the C-Suite with branding ideas and opportunities.
The Chief Financial Officer has more of a presence and a brand internally than externally – although this is certainly not exclusively the case, particularly when it comes to public companies and to the financial industry. The CFO’s responsibility is to build confidence in her skill at managing the company finances – strategically and tactically. A CFO can take steps to develop a personal brand by establishing expertise through speaking at conferences, sharing expertise on panels or taking other opportunities to present publicly. The CFO has to make sure that the financial “brand” of the company is aligned with other facets of the brand.
The Chief Technology/Information Officer has a critical internal role in the company, and they should develop a personal brand accordingly. The CTO should be sharing a roadmap of innovation as it manifests in the technology that runs the company. The CTO should feed the narrative that technology is a competitive advantage for a company – not simply a line item expense of company infrastructures. In other words, the CTO is the spokesperson for the perspective that tech is the new business as usual, and, in some cases, it is the business itself. These truths mean that the CTO has a certain external constituency – the pool of people who might be interested in working for the company. These potential hires need to know about the tech side of the company because it will influence their decision.
The Chief People Officer needs to develop a personal brand that aligns with the “why” of the company. This executive is responsible for communicating to the human resources infrastructure that they are part of a team that drives change. They need to communicate company-wide how the company views its employees. This view needs to be aligned with the overall company brand, such that the brand narrative integrates the company attitude towards its employees. Since employees are critical brand ambassadors, the CPO has a lead role in educating and engaging this role in each and every employee. The CPO’s external role is to complement its internal communications by building the narrative on why it is desirable to work at the company and who is a great fit for the company. A company is only as good as its people.
The Chief Marketing Officer integrates the branding & marketing strategy with each of the other members of the C-Suite and their own messaging. The CMO is an internal brand guru, adopting a personal brand that models how a personal brand strategy can align with the company brand. As such, integration and alignment must be core strategies of the CMO personal brand. The CMO messaging and content should to enable and empower the company to attract talent in the form of employees, customers. Clients, prospects and partners.
Each member of the C-Suite has an important role to play in the company brand. By developing a personal brand with certain key features, each executive will play a role in enhancing the company brand through strategic alignment and expansion that operates both internally and externally.
Be a noisebreaker,
Jen Dalton, CEO of BrandMirror, has over 15 years of experience in strategy, marketing, and coaching. In 2012, she made a gutsy move into the entrepreneurship space, launching her branding business and became a certified master personal branding strategist. She specializes in building your digital thought leadership on LinkedIn and other social media. You can find her bestselling book, The Intentional Entrepreneur, on Amazon, which highlights how business owners can leverage their personal brand to grow their business faster.