Posted inBranding / Entrepreneurship

CEO Brand Strategy and Positioning: Where to Begin

CEO brand strategy

If you haven’t already read the first of this two-part series, you can get caught up by heading over to “Why Today’s Innovative CEOs are Showing Up Online Consistently” to learn why you should even bother with any of this in the first place. 

CEO branding and positioning is a top priority for today’s leaders navigating uncertainty, social issues, and a tight labour market. Whether you are seasoned at showing up online or just getting your feet wet, here are some different ways to approach crafting your social media and communications programming as the face of your company. 

The overarching objectives here are to:

  • Proactively manage your reputation
  • Grow brand awareness 
  • Generate new opportunities 
  • Engage with your employees directly by demonstrating who you are and what you value
  • Send traffic back to your website 
Your content needs to resonate with your target audience. The ROI on the investment in your personal brand is whether you leave a positive impression and inspire others to act—the same overall mandate of being a leading CEO in the first place. 

Ideally, your audience connects emotionally with your brand’s personality, which can mean being relatable or personable. A brand positioning strategy needs to align with your overall goals so that success is defined around pre-determined KPIs. That said, not everything is measurable or quantitative, and your strategy can work fine simply by showing up and being consistent though it may not have a figure on the balance sheet. 

Determine What Success Looks Like for You 

If you want to chase likes as your KPI, share a picture of your dog. To build authority around specific topics and areas of your expertise, you’ll need to demonstrate consistent thought leadership to educate and build trust. 

When done successfully, you can become the go-to person that comes to mind within industry networks and receive invitations for speaking opportunities and other highly visible opportunities such as media appearances, guest articles, and podcast interviews. Besides social media, are there other places your brand should show up to reach your audience? Conferences, internal newsletters, local press? 

Figuring Out What You Want to Talk About on Social Media

An excellent place to start is what hills are you willing to die on? What do you bring to your industry that’s different via your unique point of view? Write for your customers but know that your employees are also watching, so staying on brand and delivering key messages as they are also instructed to do is paramount. Curate news articles from credible media sources and give your opinion to start building your authority within your industry.  Publishing blogs and videos could be other tactics to consider as channels for distribution. 

What is your leadership style and story to tell?

Make it personal. We know that the values expressed by the CEO should align with the company, but you are a person at the end of the day too. Does anyone within your company really know who you are? Sharing a glimpse into who you are as a person and demonstrating your leadership style fosters the connection employees desperately crave from their employers today. 

Read any good books lately? Participate in a charity event? Go hiking on the weekend and come back with a new perspective? Share who you are outside of work and what you contribute to your community, and connect in ways that express who you truly are. 

Mixing in some personal content as it relates to something you value or think is important is a great way to humanize your brand. As everyone already knows, people do business with those they know, like and trust. Putting yourself out there is one of the best ROIs for getting engagement from your posts. 

Company Announcements 

Though traditional press releases have become less common, they can still be a valuable way to inform your industry and customers of developments within your organization. New partnerships, product launches, leadership team additions and other noteworthy accomplishments can attract media attention and bring traffic to your website.   

Identify key topics/overarching themes that will guide you through consistently posting so you can delegate direction while developing intentional authority. 

Getting Tactical, Where, When and How You Plan to Show Up 

  • Channels

If you are in the B2B space, LinkedIn is still the place to post for your professional network. Twitter is also a good B2B channel to post to grow an audience and is more fun to network with professionally. DMs on Twitter have surpassed in value from their old, automated days and are much more welcomed than a cold LinkedIn pitch from a new contact. Genuine relationships are born on Twitter today. Engage with your existing network and team on LinkedIn and attract more followers with engagement, hashtags, and commenting on others’ content.  Expand your reach by publishing blogs on channels such as Medium. The most important thing is to go where your prospective customers are and not try to be everywhere to be the most effective. 

  • Frequency and Developing a Routine 

 To be successful at executing your plan, you will likely need to resource support so you can activate with consistency. Know how often you want to post and where so you can design a workflow that will allow you to achieve your KPIs. 

  • Executing Posts on Specific Topics/Themes

Posts are ideally aligned with the innovations in your industry, while mixing in occasional personal posts that demonstrate your story and values as part of the overall foundation. Tune and adjust periodically based on performance and engagement from your audience, but give it enough time to take shape too.  

  • Engagement/Commenting on Industry Hot Topics 

Commenting on industry trends and posts from others in your network will raise your visibility as a thought leader around the topics outlined in your strategy.

  • Assigning the Resources to Execute 

You can unlikely execute on this alone unless you block off a specific time regularly. Having an internal team member or external ghostwriter assisting in content development can help you develop a consistent rhythm. Editing the first draft can save you time and prevent you from dropping off your plan. A scheduling tool helps to plan content and format posts based on ideal times and past performance. 

  • Reporting and Determining Your KPIs

Remember, we are playing the long game here. Give your plan some time to come to fruition. Don’t expect instant results even though they can happen. If brand awareness is a goal, then measure impressions. If you want to increase employee engagement, see who comments and reshares with their networks. Measure growth in followers, website traffic, leads, speaking engagements or any other KPI that is important to you as a part of your reporting matrix. Assess monthly, quarterly, and annually. 

Checklist for Getting Your Online Profiles Ready for More Visibility

  • Social proof and endorsements to give you instant credibility- (give testimonials to get them)
  • Update your bios to reflect the current state of the company 
  • How influential is your headline? (Title, background, who you serve/problem you solve) 
  • Media/speaking training, if you haven’t already taken it
  • Consider developing a personal website, at the very least owning the domain of your name 

The Powerful Effects of a Good Headshot 

Things have changed over time, and so have you. I’ve always advocated for having a new headshot and getting them redone every couple of years. We felt so strongly about it that at my first agency, we hosted a picture day for a few of our clients to revamp their online images. 

Trust me when I say that even if there are a few extra lines on your face or a few extra pounds, showing up as you are today will be more presentable and influential than using an old irrelevant image. Stay in alignment with who you are now. I landed two speaking gigs simply by updating my picture on social media. People are attracted to positive changes and will think you are innovating when you refresh, which when you make this gesture, you usually are. 

In closing, social media is one of the most affordable PR outlets available to manage your reputation proactively. Communicate a consistent narrative reflecting the values and mission of your organization and you.

A solid personal brand benefits your company,  and can also impact future career opportunities such as access to new jobs, ventures, book launches and more. Define what success looks like for you and determine what kind of digital footprint you wish to leave behind as part of your legacy. 

Want to learn more? Arrange a consultation, contact us today!