10 Mar Take action: Top 10 ways to distinguish your executive brand
To lead is an action, not just a position. Some may argue that perception is everything, but executives today must demonstrate originality that extends beyond optics and defines the attributes that make them unique and respected as leaders. It’s one thing to try and appear unique—it’s another to actually stand out. And the latter requires more grit, commitment and courage. Here are ten actions that can help leaders mark their executive brand in today’s crowded marketplace.
Have courage and be bold.
What do Oprah, Henry Ford, Coco Chanel, and Richard Branson have in common? They all began with a series of setbacks and hardships – but successfully built empires by doubling down on brilliant, bold and fearless branding strategies. When most automobile makers were only interested in catering to the high-end luxe market, Henry Ford sought to innovatively manufacture a vehicle so affordable and dependable that “no man will be unable to own one.” Coco Chanel pioneered women’s sportswear when it was taboo for women to even wear pants! And do you remember when Richard Branson, never shy with publicity stunts, dressed up as a female flight attendant after he lost a bet with Asia Air’s CEO?
Be prepared to fail.
“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable,” said Coco Chanel, the designer doyenne who built one of the world’s most famous fashion houses after she failed in her original dream of being a stage actress. Sure, failure is tough. But anyone who has achieved success will likely have stories that begin with chapters of repeated trials and errors, failures and lessons learned, not tales of instant perfection. In your executive branding journey, prepare for wrong turns, detours and reroutes.
Stay in your lane.
We’re not going to sugarcoat this for you: the digital marketplace is saturated with a plenitude of experts, all clamoring for airtime. But if you stick to what you do best, delve into a niche and calibrate your messaging, you will end up in a less noisy space with more opportunities for your voice to come through and be heard by those who matter most.
Don’t fake it.
Effective executive branding is rooted in authenticity. You need to be yourself – your best self. Audiences want sincere content and pretending to be something you’re not will eventually damage your reputation or require a lot of energy to keep up.
Focus on the why.
Just like in consumer products and services, the marketplace for executives is dictated by supply and demand. In your branding journey, you should be constantly asking yourself the same questions that companies ponder in board meetings: Why would someone choose your brand over another? What makes your brand different and more approachable than your competition?
Share the spotlight.
You’ll find yourself in the spotlight as you excel in executive branding but resist the temptation to enjoy it all yourself. Remain humble and give credit when due, both publicly and privately. Make genuine gratitude a fundamental brand value.
Strive to build a community.
Hootsuite, the social media management platform, grew from zero to three million users in three years – an extraordinary feat for any company. But what’s even more remarkable is that they did this without advertising. They instead engaged users with insights, information and guidance. Executives too can leverage community building to boost their network, elevate their profile and support others.
Give and you shall receive.
Provide helpful resources. Answer questions. Offer whatever support you have so you can help people. This can be done through interviews, speaking opportunities, blog posts, Tweets, LinkedIn articles or even bylines published on reputable media outlets. Yes, building a community is a lot of work! But we never said executive branding would be easy (and you don’t have to do it alone). Don’t worry, though, because your efforts will come back two-fold in the form of followers, referral sources, leads, experiences and new friends. There is an abundance of opportunity out there – you just have to summon it!
Prioritize quality over quantity.
In the age of hyper communications and instant gratification, there’s an instinct to post on social media without regard for messaging strategy or audience targeting. You can avoid this trap by focusing on quality rather than quantity. Quality and insights (don’t forget to be bold!), will get you noticed and help put you in front of the right audiences – whether it be clients, investors, corporate boards, or even your next boss.
Engage a team to help tell your story.
Executive branding strategy is equally as important as branding a business. It speaks to what you have to offer and determines your success as a leader. But most executives are busy doing their jobs and it takes time, energy and strategy to identify the right audiences, craft precise messaging and see return on investment. Finding the right expert branding team streamlines your executive branding journey so you can communicate with boldness, raise your leadership impact and share your unique wisdom and gifts with the world!