In today’s world, people often base purchasing choices, employment decisions and investment picks on their opinion of an organization’s top leader. Think of Martha Stewart, Steve Jobs or Meg Whitman.
A company’s reputation is closely linked to that of its chief executive officer (CEO), and the credibility of the top banana greatly influences whether people are willing to trust an organization, support it through a crisis or pay a premium for its products and services.
Regardless of a company’s size or complexity, the person in charge sets the style and tone, embodies the brand, and becomes its public face. Employees, customers and the media all watch the CEO for insights into the corporation’s culture, integrity and brand value.
Leadership branding means that the leader has a recognizable public persona.
Branding a person involves positioning the person through actions, statements and values and may involve:
- Media strategies that present the executive as a credible spokesperson, able to provide insight and commentary to reporters who cover his or her industry or influence his or her markets
- Public speaking that reaches targeted audiences through keynotes, panels, town hall meetings, trade shows or executive conferences
- Cause marketing that builds brand loyalty and demonstrates corporate citizenship.
- Thought leadership whereby the CEO influences the industry or community with visionary ideas or strongly held positions
- Published articles, reports, op-eds and books in either printed or online media
A leader’s reputation is an essential component of a company’s overall branding strategy.
The CEO’s reputation needs to be crafted, honed and sustained over the long term.