As a personal branding coach, I am astounded by the lack of awareness around personal branding. Too many executives and other professionals do not realize the importance of defining and communicating their differentiators and their unique promise of value.
A CEO can drive success or drive their company into the ground. A lot has to do with their charisma, ability to reach out to their defined community, and consistently manage and expand their personal brand.
Let’s look at some examples:
A leader whose brand is very close to my heart, as I know is to millions of others, is Richard Branson. As a child in London, UK, I can remember my parents taking me to London Zoo. As part of the walk from the Tube (subway) station, we walked the Regent’s Canal and passed the longboat where Richard Branson began building the Virgin empire.
I had the fortune of meeting him on the tow path of the canal before he rose to brand superiority. During that initial meeting, he exuded confidence in what was then a fledgling brand. I could see his competitive spirit and could tell he would achieve much success in future years. Today, Branson’s Virgin group has 100s of companies that cross the world, all with strong brand attributes and appeal.
Wow, has he come a long way since I first met him! How can you not remember Virgin? It’s a fixture across many sectors from banking to music to travel. Branson’s brand has stayed true through multiple economic ups and downs, just like Oprah Winfrey’s, who as a celebrity has also assumed a global brand for caring, empathy, communication, inspiration, and thought leadership.
Both Richard and Oprah accepted challenges and demands early on in their lives, but from Day One they assumed a brand and stayed truthful and faithful to it, despite many external influences.
Another business leader I have long admired is Ed Clark, who recently stepped down as CEO of TD. As a leader, he took TD through many challenges, to being one of the best companies to work for.
In fact, in more than 20 years as an executive career management professional, I have rarely met any unhappy TD employees (though there have been many from other banks). Clark was truly a pioneer in people management, and that is a major part of his legacy.
Leaders who are confident in expressing their brand are the ones with the ambition, drive and determination to pursue excellence and reach their goals. Don’t you want to be that kind of leader?
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