Archive for August, 2009

What is CEO Branding?

August 7, 2009

What is CEO Branding?

Often times, individuals at the top of companies believe working long hours inside the office is the secret to growing their business. This could not be further from the truth! Since the beginning of time, profits have been driven by the awareness and perceived quality of the service/product.

CEO’s cannot escape the inevitability of the equation: Notoriety = Credibility.

One of the world’s largest PR firms, Burson-Marsteller, completed a survey about the role of the CEO in the company’s perceived image. The results indicated that, based on the CEO’s reputation:

  • 95% decide whether or not to invest in a company
  • 93% would recommend a company as a good alliance/merger partner
  • 88% recommend the company as a good place to work

These results by themselves show us the importance of a CEO’s reputation to the success of the company.

If you think about it, these results should not be a surprise. The CEO is the public face of the company, and many times the CEO will be involved in securing the largest contracts. If you are a current business owner, you know this is a reality and must come to grips with it.

Have you ever wondered why, despite the amount of sales people you bring on and train, you can’t quite find that one person who can generate as much revenue as you can? Do you know why that is? Are you ready? It is because despite the methodologies you use to train a person, they cannot clone your image and relationships. People and companies are often making decisions to do business with your company because of you, the CEO. Am I suggesting that your company is completely dependent upon you for sales? Not at all! There is a path to make networking, lead generation, sales and increased advertising and marketing return all easier to attain. This path is CEO BRANDING.

CEO branding is the process of developing positive impressions with the general public, media, customers, employees, and investors based on the development of an image and communicating the beliefs of the Chief Executive Officer in a way that highlights the product/service offerings of the company.

If CEO branding were a toolkit it would be comprised of the following: all public relation activities, media interviews, philanthropy, articles, books, speaking engagements, and employee treatment. At Ascendant Strategy Group (www.ascendantstrategy.net) we focus on helping clients translate these activities into individual and corporate profits. In the next several issues we will discuss how you as a CEO can become involved in these activities and how specifically they will improve your company’s reputation, increase the popularity of your company’s services/products and enhance your bottom line.

There is no better poster-child for the benefits of CEO Branding than Richard Branson; who has single-handedly proven that branded CEO’s are a very precious commodity. (Branson is, of course, the CEO and architect of the Virgin brand). While Branson obviously has savvy operational skills, the key to him making the transition from successful business man to building a multi-billion dollar enterprise has been the development of his CEO brand. Branson is known for his colorful personality and competitive spirit, he is a media darling and is loved by the public.

Did Branson build this reputation by sitting behind a desk and waiting for people to discover Virgin’s products/services? The answer is a resounding no! Instead, Branson has attempted to break, and in some cases successfully broken, world records. He broke world records including creating the first hot air balloon to fly out of the Atlantic with speeds surpassing 240 mph! He also has been involved in a number of philanthropic activities, and appears in films and television shows regularly. Branson has a flare for the dramatic; he gets involved in the newest trends and figures out a way to make his brand relevant.

Branson’s newest initiative is renewable fuels. When CNN did a feature story on the oil crisis, it was Branson (whose enterprise wasn’t even running at full capacity yet) whom they called on to be a major contributor. That is CEO branding at its finest! When you are being interviewed about what your next project is, this indicates a high level of awareness and trust in your service. As a result of Branson’s CEO Brand, all relevant stakeholders and potential stakeholders for the company are aware of what Virgin offers and its reputation.

Ascendant Strategy Group (www.ascendantstrategy.net).  can be contacted at info@ascendantstrategy.net or 1.800.838.8152