In rather the same way as the Pope represents the Catholic brand, if you run your own company, you are its earthly representative. That’s why boosting your personal brand is becoming a key part of every new and growing company’s marketing strategy.
Despite the new marketing lingo, personal brands have always existed. As Jeff Bezos – a great example of a personal brand– put it: “Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room”. It is about making sure people think about you in a way you would like them to think about you. It’s about having an eye on your reputation. One thing it is not about is your ego (despite his surname, Russell's misjudged it).
It’s also vital to admit that there’s no way to get around personal branding, however hard you might try to hide. Even if you decide to scrap Twitter, bin Facebook and lose LinkedIn that still says a lot about how you want to be perceived.
The question of personal branding becomes more fraught when it comes to the charity sector. Should CEOs have a personal brand and does this risk deflecting attention from the cause they are supporting? Looking at personal branding through the prism of CSR is a good way to understand exactly how best to enhance your personal brand for your business objectives.
Here are a few tips to make sure they align:
Authenticity is a term that often seems as empty as Kimye’s library. But it’s actually quite simple: consistently live the personal values you espouse. That’s why master of the personal brand, Boris Johnson, gets away with being a philandering and rather dubious individual when other politicians don’t. Whatever you may think of him, he’s never tried to lecture anyone on how they should behave.
We’re not all Leonardo Da Vinci - and anyway, he had to wait a couple of centuries before his personal brand really took off - so try and limit the things you want to be known for. Having a narrow range of specialisms increases the possibility people will consult you on them. If you work in charity, the charity you represent is your focus - mention it at every opportunity.
Self awareness is one of those qualities that is very difficult to judge - if you have it, you have it. If you don’t, it’s difficult to be sufficiently aware to realise what you’re lacking. One of the ways of getting round this, is to create a meaningful structure where you get feedback from both customers and staff. It can be as simple as asking them, what you could do better. This is not the sign of weakness, rather, it’s the opposite.
This is linked to the imperative of authenticity. If there’s a storm, transparency is your port. If you are responsible for delivering bad messages, you have to keep on giving reasons and pointing back to those who will benefit - and it should be your staff and customers. In the case of need for damage limitation, it’s always important to act decisively, resolutely and quickly.
For more inspiration, check out Charity Leaders on the Knowledge Peers network. You can read a report on the subject on the Charity Leaders Exchange.
We want to know whose personal brand you rate. Tweet to us @WorkspaceGroup using the hashtag #personalbrand.