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Navigator’s folio of ideas, insights and new ways of thinking

Brand wagon: Burnishing your personal brand

August 1, 2017

Your individual brand can be a critical differentiator – for better and for worse.

Once upon a time, it mattered if you were a man or woman of your word. Personal reputation for integrity was crucial for solid standing within a community, smoothing the path forward both socially and in business.

In the age of social media, however, reputation management has been transformed into a micro-industry of apps, consultants and self-help guides. After all, if you don’t have “personal brand” do you really exist in 2017?

It’s not a frivolous question.

Amid the throngs populating Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and (especially) LinkedIn, curating a personal brand has become an essential differentiator. Standing out from the crowd contributes to workplace mobility in a “gig” economy, where an increasing number of jobs are freelance, contract and temporary. The day when people built a reputation in a small circle over a life-long career at one or two corporations in a single sector are long gone. Now, it’s all about competitive advantage.

This reality is as crucial for CEOs (who have an average tenure of under five years) as it is for other employees. Whatever your place in the food chain, the more established your credentials, the greater your opportunities.

There are three basic trends for personal brand.

1. Authenticity

2. Differentiation

3. Revelance

For CEOs specifically, strategically cultivating a positive personal profile based on these factors has become an essential long-term investment.

For example, being recognized as a thought leader can open doors with clients, government and regulators. It also provides an alternate avenue of internal communications, something that can be useful where there are a number of external-facing employees who can carry forward messages in good and bad times.

Personal brand can also contribute positively to deal flow in competitive circumstances. A leader who is trusted and known is far more likely to attract potential deals and have an edge over rivals in closing on them. By the same measure, personal brand can offer a shortcut to the boards and clubs that build the relationships that contribute materially to deal flow.

When things go wrong, the credibility and authority that stem from a well-managed personal brand are invaluable to any leader. An individual who is internally and externally known and respected has a much better chance to retain control in a crisis and direct chaos to an orderly conclusion.

That’s all the more important given the impact that social media can have on spreading—and distorting—negative news. It also has a real bottom-line value because it can save millions of dollars in market value and limit the ability of competitors to permanently capitalize on any bad news.

In short, the return on investing in personal brand yields a significant dividend.


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