I love it when I speak with CEOs who understand they need to venture beyond their corner offices and be the face of their companies.

They know if they can convey the passion they feel for what they do, that will go a long way in stimulating interest in both their personal brand and corporate brand all at the same time.
Unfortunately, not all CEO’s get that. Then there are others who do get it, but aren’t as comfortable pulling it off the way, for example, folks like Richard Branson and Elon Musk are.

Last year there seemed to be a lot of talk about the importance of personal branding and I even wrote about it myself. But it’s important to remember personal branding isn’t just about shouting to the world, “Look at me!” What it’s really about is letting the world know who you are and what skills or insights you have to offer that will help them.

Lee Iacocca set a great example of this early on as a CEO who understood the need to be the face of his company. It ultimately enhanced his personal brand while promoting his corporation’s brand.

For those of you who are too young to remember (like some of the millennial members of my team!), Iacocca headed up the Chrysler Corp. from the late 1970s into the early 1990s, most famously playing a critical role in saving the automobile manufacturer from bankruptcy. The Iacocca personal brand and the Chrysler brand were inseparable, and both thrived as a result.
Another master at mixing personal branding with corporate branding was Dave Thomas, the Wendy’s founder who appeared in the fast-food chain’s commercials for more than a decade. Thomas created a likeable onscreen persona, coming off as the kind of guy you would want to have as a neighbor (especially if he was a neighbor willing to invite you over for hamburgers prepared on the backyard grill).

Iacocca and Thomas had different personalities and different businesses, but they shared something in common. They had a passion for what they did and they were willing to put that passion to use in taking a lead role in their companies’ branding efforts.

Which brings us to this question: What are some of the things you can do to take the same sort of front-and-center role that Iacocca and Thomas handled so well? Here are a few ideas:

  • Identify your passion and use it in positioning your message. What is it that gets you excited about getting up in the morning? The answer may not necessarily be your product or service – at least, not directly. Take the example of Dave Thomas. Was he passionate about hamburgers? (Well, maybe, because nearly everyone loves a good hamburger!) But Dave happened to be an adopted child and was really passionate about family and increasing the adoptions of children waiting in our foster care systems. This passion not only built his personal brand but translated into building Wendy’s brand as well.
  • Communicate that passion. Build a marketing strategy that identifies all the ways you can communicate about it, e.g., write a blog, or a book, offer yourself as an expert to the press, or do guest appearances on radio and TV talk shows. The point is your willingness and ability to get your passion across to the world at large will have an impact on both you and your business. Jay York, our senior social media strategist here at EMSI, brought my attention to a quote from author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek that goes straight to that point: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
  • Create a personal social media presence. It’s likely your company has a presence on such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter to promote your company. But you should consider having your own social media platforms also to promote you, which in turn helps your business. This is another outlet for building your personal brand separate from your company, yet in the end will benefit both.

The ability to identify your passion – matched with the willingness to communicate that passion to the public – can go further than you might guess in helping you spread the word about your brand.

When done effectively, both you and your company can thrive.

Are you ready for your close-up?
Marsha

P.S. If you need help promoting either your personal brand or your business brand, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 215 or click here to get your Free Media Analysis. This is our passion and we’d love to help you!

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