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personal branding do's and dont's

Personal Branding Do’s and Don’ts: A Data Driven Guide

Is Your Personal Brand Costing You Millions?

A LinkedIn study revealed that CEOs with strong personal brands generate 5x more social media engagement. Conversely, a study by Allegory found that 56% of C-Suite leaders believe a weak personal brand can damage a company’s reputation.

This data-driven guide explores the Do’s and Don’ts of personal branding to help you leverage your influence and drive value for your company.

Zig Ziglar famously said

“If people like you, they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

LinkedIn affirms that social selling
leaders create more business value.

Curating a powerful personal brand is a long-term investment that requires intentionality, effort, and a focus on specific principles.

social selling leaders create thumbnail image

Here’s how a data-driven approach can guide your executive branding efforts:

1. Know Your Audience (Data-Driven Targeting)

Start by leveraging audience insights. Platforms like LinkedIn offer advanced targeting options to identify potential investors, industry influencers, or future recruits based on demographics, interests, and job titles. Tailor your content and communication style to resonate with their specific needs and interests.

2. Define Your Value Proposition (Data-Driven Differentiation)

What makes you unique?

Identify your core strengths, values, and expertise.

This clarity will shape your brand narrative, differentiate you from the competition, allow you to connect with potential employees on a deeper level, and enable you to build a positive employer brand.

Audiences crave genuine connections.

When you’re transparent, relatable, and true to your values, you build trust with potential customers and the talented individuals you need to drive your company forward.

This foundation of trust fosters long-term relationships with key stakeholders, ultimately propelling your brand and your company’s success.

According to a study by Edelman Trust Barometer, thought leadership is a key driver of trust for CEOs, with 84% of global respondents stating they trust CEOs who are outspoken about industry issues.

Develop a data-driven content strategy to become a thought leader. Share valuable insights and contribute to industry conversations. Regularly publishing high-quality content positions you as an authority figure and attracts a loyal following.

3. Measure and Adapt (Data-Driven Optimization)

Track your progress. Analyze social media engagement, website traffic, and brand mentions. Use this data to refine your strategy and ensure your efforts are achieving the desired results. Look for metrics that align with your goals – website visits if you’re aiming to attract recruits or media mentions if you’re focused on industry recognition.

Here are the essentials of executive branding.

THE DO’S

A. Establish a Clear Personal Brand Identity

Self-awareness is the foundation for your brand and the perch from through which you can authentically communicate your value proposition to your intended audience.

Develop a brief and impactful personal brand statement that will be the cornerstone of your brand identity. This statement must capture who you are, what you stand for, and your values.

Personal brand statements must be articulated with clarity and conviction, pivotal in creating and sustaining a compelling story that will set you apart from the crowd while still resonating with your intended audience.

Richard Branson

Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson, understands the importance of having a clear brand identity, and it has reflected well in the Virgin Brand. His 40 million followers across social media have proven influential in driving business to Virgin Group. Branson usually uses his influence to reinstate the brand’s core values and culture through interviews, articles, and brand messaging conveyed to the public. Richard Branson’s approach to utilizing social media to boost brand visibility and customer trust is truly inspiring.

With 80% of customers placing their faith in companies whose senior management is active on social media, it’s clear that his strategy is a winning one. An excellent example of a well-articulated brand statement for a C-suite executive working in the tech industry would be:

“Empowering innovation at the intersection of technology and humanity. I am dedicated to leading transformative initiatives that redefine possibilities and drive sustainable growth, with a visionary approach grounded in integrity and empathy. I aspire to use my expertise in technology to shape the future, inspire teams, and deliver unmatched value to stakeholders.”

The above brand statement checks all the right boxes. The executive’s brand identity has a clear focus, as do their leadership strengths and value proposition. Their message has been tailored to their intended audience by positioning themselves as a subject matter in the tech industry.

B. Consistency Across Platforms

Consistency makes all the difference in personal executive branding. Once your brand identity has been set, you will need to perform a digital footprint check, which ensures everything is in line with your brand identity.

Visual and textual elements must align with your social media profiles, website, or professional portfolio. Even the tiniest details – fonts and color schemes – matter a lot when moving the needle with your personal brand.

Maintaining a cohesive visual identity increases the propensity for instant recognition and reinforces your brand recall.

Your language and imagery must match your visual consistency: It’s also pivotal that your messaging has a consistent style and tone that builds on the foundations of your personal brand identity and values.

You’ve built your career on authority and expertise. But true leadership requires you to connect and that means your personality matters too.

The question is, how do you strike the balance as you build your personal brand in today’s world? How can you be yourself while still commanding respect and resonating with your audience?

C. Building a Strong Online Presence

The next crucial step is how you brand yourself on social media after curating a personal brand identity.

90% of employees agree that brand image is enhanced when a company’s executive leadership participates on social media.

For starters, LinkedIn is one of the most potent and relevant social media platforms for personal branding and networking. Effective LinkedIn profile management highlights your expertise, achievements, and professional affiliations to boost your brand’s reach and engagement.

LinkedIn offers several other features like headlines and summaries that could be utilized to capture your personal brand identity and value proposition accurately. Aside from those, the platform also champions visibility and credibility through features such as endorsements and recommendations that often come from your network. Your network is your net worth, and what better way to grow your network than by regularly updating your profile with relevant and engaging content?

While LinkedIn is one of many viable platforms for personal branding and audience engagement, your target audience might be on other social media channels like YouTube, Instagram, or X (formerly Twitter). It helps to connect with them on their chosen platforms and tailor your content marketing and engagement strategies accordingly. These platforms should work for you to amplify your brand message.

THE DONT’S

You might often find yourself buried in meetings and vital company projects, so nurturing your personal brand might take the back seat. Mistakes and pitfalls are bound to escape scrutiny when you have scant time to build your brand amid your busy schedule. Here are some tell-tale signs you must watch out for to ensure you don’t veer off the path.

A. Being Inconsistent or Unclear About your Brand

Personal branding is an intentional, strategic practice in which you define and express your value proposition. Consistency and clarity, as stated earlier, boost trust and credibility in your brand. On the other hand, inconsistency, confusing messaging, conflicting brand images, and vagueness do nothing but hurt your brand. A study by Saad emphasizes that consistent personal brand endorsement in corporate publicity as part of company and product brand strategy directly impacts company performance, reputation, and increases product sales.

For example, Paul, the CEO of a budding construction company, portrays himself as a visionary leader in one context but showcases risk-averse behaviour in another. This inconsistency can confuse the audience and erode trust in the executive’s brand. Moreover, it creates a disconnect between his audience and personal brand, undermining his credibility.

Additionally, trying to appeal to multiple target audiences will dilute your personal brand’s effectiveness. As the adage always says; Jack of all trades, master of none. When Paul talks about construction, infrastructure management, HR, and workplace culture, his brand message will lose focus and fail to resonate with his target audience in the construction industry. This lack of focus will diminish the impact of his brand and limit his ability to establish credibility and authority in any area.

Spotting inconsistency and opacity is quickly done through brand audits and research, which provide an accurate perception of your brand.

B. Neglecting your Online Reputation

We cannot stress enough how important it is to monitor and manage your digital footprint in this era. For executives, it is more crucial to be wary of everything you are part of online given the stakes. Your social media activity, online reviews, and featured or name-dropped news articles paint a compelling picture of your brand. Neglecting to monitor and manage your digital reputation can have damaging effects on your brand, business, and by extension, stakeholders.

According to Deloitte, Reputation Damage is the No. 1 risk concern for business executives worldwide, and 88 percent say they are explicitly focusing on reputation risk as a critical business challenge.

online-reputation

Martin Shkreli’s poor management of his drug price hike scandal at the helm of Turing Pharmaceuticals is a stark reminder of the critical nature of online reputations. In an interview with Bloomberg, the former executive defended his actions amidst uproar from the medical community, gaining the name “Pharma Bro.” Moreover, Mr. Shkreli tarnished his reputation even further by smirking at a Committee hearing. 

This went along way to hurt his brand, resulting in long-reaching consequences for him and Turing Pharmaceuticals, which he had to part ways with. The company sued Shkreli for $65 million for breach of duty and rebranded to Vyera in 2017 and Phoenix AG in 2019 to avoid negative publicity.

For example, if “our” executive, Paul, receives constructive feedback or criticism on his professional performance or behavior and ignores it, that indifference will signal arrogance or a lack of accountability, damaging his executive brand in the eyes of his audience.

C. Over-promotion and Self-centeredness.

There is a thin line between self-promotion and overpromotion. Striking a balance between self-promotion and providing value to your audience is where the jackpot is! Finding the balance starts by knowing your audience and their context. Your audience might prefer direct shows of self-promotion, or they might appreciate indirect means. A study by Professor Scopelliti found that people overestimate
how ‘happy’ recipients of self-promotion feel and underestimate the extent to which the recipients feel annoyed by self-promotion lacking value.

 45% of people will unfollow a brand due to high self-promotion

-BuzzStream

As an executive, your brand should reflect your expertise and accomplishments while delivering value to your audience. However, there might be times when you blow your own trumpet a little too loud without consciously knowing it. Excessive self-promotion without meaningful content or insights can appear selfish and alienate your audience. For example, suppose a business leader constantly brags about their achievements without offering actionable, practical advice or thought leadership. In that case, it diminishes the credibility of their personal brand and dilutes their influence within their industry. Additionally, it will create a rift between their target audience and the message the executive will be passing.

boeing

A great case study is Boeing’s FAA scandal that led to the company making losses of about $40 Billion in stock valuation because they were focused on providing software quick-fixes to the safety issues with their 737-Max batch of airplanes. The Boeing brand was stained due to them overpromoting their 737-Max planes that failed FAA tests and passing them as safe and regulatory-approved.

As a result, several tragedies followed that negatively impacted the company. Had they controlled their narrative by accurately managing their brand online, it would have cushioned the fall and reduced the scandals that continue to haunt them in 2024.

To avoid over-promotion, focus on value creation, ensuring that your self-promotion efforts are aligned with your audience’s interests, enhancing engagement and credibility. Moreover, you can also respond to and engage with posts that align with your brand.

How do you strategize your branding for executive success?

As a C-suite leader, you are a steward of your company’s corporate vision and an exemplar of industry expertise. In so doing, you must cultivate a personal brand that resonates with authority and distinction. You don’t want to be mixed up with other personal brands on the Internet; you must stand out!

Here are our recommendations to help you soar:

executive positioning section image

Executive positioning should be at the core of your branding strategy. This entails creating a narrative to position you as a thought leader within your industry, enhancing your credibility and influence. Your brand must, too, since you are already at the top of your organization.

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Manage your reputation online by strategically curating a strong social media presence to solidify your personal brand as an industry authority. A McKinsey study affirms that it takes 16 touchpoints to turn a prospect into a customer, and each contact can determine 70% of brand perception.

unique value proposition section image

You should strive to be different and unique. Your value proposition, skills, experiences, and perspectives should be showcased and well-articulated. This individuality is a powerful catalyst for personal brand recognition in the crowded market of C-Suite executives.

Eva Chen Said it best

“Build a lifestyle around your brand, and the audience will follow”.

How do you do that? It might look Herculean, but we are here to power your online presence while making it more manageable. We have tried, tested, and trusted executive branding strategies that have been pivotal in ensuring our clients have the best experience transforming their online executive brands.

At Reactionpower, we specialize in nurturing executive brands with a dedicated team that will elevate your personal brand through data-driven insights. Don’t wait any longer – schedule a strategy session today and learn how to lead in the digital age!

Chacha Lesley is a digital marketing specialist with extensive experience in social media management, copywriting, and graphic design. He is also a creative writer who prides himself in capturing moments before they flee into oblivion; he strives to write stories that evoke emotions and inspire minds to wander. If he wrote less, he would talk about it more.

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