What Is Executive Branding?
You may have heard of personal branding: a great strategy for entrepreneurs and independent professionals to market their value to a defined audience. Personal branding also has tremendous value for executives. Your executive brand can send you up the ranks of a corporation, or into the corporate setting of your choice.
Why Do Executives Have To Brand Themselves?
Every company is also a marketplace. Every day within a company, ideas and resources are bought and sold.
Every company buys professional services from professional service firms called “employees”. Each employee is effectively a “You, Inc.” that has one customer: the company. The company will continue to “employ” the professional service firm of “You, Inc.” as long as the value brought to the company outweighs the costs for services.
The old employee “contract” that corporations had with their workers no longer applies. Old assumptions have been replaced by new realities:
OLD EMPLOYEE CONTRACT
Employment for life
Work is highly organized
The Production Worker
People produce work
Employees are employed
Change was slow
NEW EMPLOYEE REALITIES
Employment contingent upon ROI
Employee “free agency”
Work can be organized but fluid
The Knowledge Worker
Technology produces work
Employees are engaged
Change has been accelerated
The fundamental premise of marketing and branding is to find a need and fill it. As an executive, your brand has to stand for solutions — ideas to meet the needs of your company and managers. However, the greater the need of your company and the greater the number of people who can potentially fill that need, the more disposable you are – and the greater the need to have a great executive brand.
Branding Is Everything
Sales is convincing: you move your lips to overcome objections, negotiate deals and persuade others to see a situation your way. Marketing is generating opportunity: networking, sending resumes, even lunching with peers.
But branding is at the very core of selling and marketing…and leadership and training…and everything else you do.
Branding means positioning yourself, through your actions and value, so that people feel an irresistible urge to listen to your advice, hire you, or seek out your leadership. The art of executive branding is the art of shaping or reshaping people’s perceptions.
Branding Is A Reverse Sale
Today, branding comes first. We live in a skeptical culture. Before we are sold anything, we want to know a person’s story: who they are, where they’re from, and what they do. The real fact is that nothing is sold until it is branded. When your executive brand is crafted correctly, the sale is virtually effortless. Companies are “pre-sold” on you.
As an executive, your brand objective is to gain and maintain meaningful and well-compensated employment. Your biggest challenge, simply stated, is this: How do I get more companies to think of me as their “blank” before they actually need one?
Visibility Builds Credibility
Branding is all about visibility, and visibility builds credibility in the public eye. If we see someone all over the place, all over our company, or all over our industry we get the impression that he or she must be good; their presence attests to their success.
Increasingly, people think that if they have not heard of you, you can’t be that good. Lack of visibility not only prevents you from generating new opportunities, it actually hurts your credibility with co-workers and management.
Perception Is Stronger Than Reality
Our “reality” is really the product of our unique perception. In truth, we are not so much trying to become “better people” as to create a better perception in the eyes of others. The wise executive focuses on perception as well as results.
Your Most Important Service
No matter what you provide — Management, Human Resources, Information Technology — your most important service is advice.
Whenever you speak with a co-worker or a manager, you are engaged in some degree of advice delivery. When your co-workers or manager begin instantly accepting your advice, you have gained more influence. The key is to have more of the right people desire your advice.
The More Influence You Have, The Stronger Your Brand
A good brand captures mindshare. The more minds that want your advice, the stronger your brand. By capturing your co-workers’ mindshare, you can not only advance your career, but also produce more results for your company.