You’ve heard that you should build an executive brand – especially when preparing for a job search.
But how do you define and leverage a leadership brand that supports your career?
- What information is most relevant – and how do you identify it?
- How will you know if your brand and messaging conveys your leadership strengths?
- Where and how should you use your executive brand?
These 5 steps will help you build your executive brand – and fully utilize the results:
1 – Pinpoint your differentiators.
This is where your personality and career story come into play.
What do others say about you as an executive, mentor, leader, or team builder?
Maybe colleagues and bosses praise your ability to build consensus, take charge of difficult projects, grow company operations, or spearhead other results. If so, look closely at their feedback and affirm it as part of your brand.
How do you see yourself? Do you inspire others in your industry or company? What compels you to take on new initiatives or causes?
Pull out these themes of leadership and take note of how these qualities have emerged in your career. These are among the core building blocks of your executive brand.
At this point, you should have a list of qualities and actions that look something like this:
- Takes on the most pressing problems in every situation
- Solves longstanding issues by analyzing root causes and designing corrective actions
- Produces growth that eclipses industry competitors
- Turns around troubled divisions or departments
- Helps new employees feel welcome and elicits their input
2 – Put numbers to your brand qualities and themes.
How much revenue, growth, profit, or process improvement do you achieve or influence?
If you’re the person tapped when when a turnaround is required, what percentage of improvement do you lead?
Metrics are CRITICAL to building success stories that impress recruiters or Boards.
Here are examples of data-driven brand value and leadership impact:
- Recognized and rectified territory challenges – creating the region’s #1 sales year.
- Created XYZ Academy to train new hires in product-led growth strategies driving 20% year-over-year gains in market share.
- Earned Chief Revenue Officer promotion for championing lucrative new-market entry in 5 countries.
Bolster your reputation by cherry-picking the accomplishments that best demonstrate your most desirable attributes.
3 – Take note of new brand strengths you want to promote.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to position yourself as an innovator or a transformational driver. To shape your personal brand, identify the leadership qualities you WANT to offer to new employers.
Describe how these skills show up in your work so that others will notice them. For example, a turnaround leader might include:
- Identifies downward trends affecting growth from past decades
- Conceptualizes and gains backing for new strategies
- Selects and hires both team members and influential new leaders to champion change
- Drives revitalization projects that move the needle from stagnant to successful
Document these brand-forward skills and seek opportunities to DEMONSTRATE them, as described in the next 2 steps.
4 – Find ways to “live” and exemplify your brand.
Intentional brand building, in which you take purposeful steps to help strengthen and convey your brand, is crucial.
This requires identifying which actions are “on brand” for you, and seeking out ways to incorporate them into your leadership story.
Select activities that align with and validate your newly polished executive brand. These can include:
- Raising your hand for a strategic initiative that will help others recognize your influence
- Speaking at industry conferences or in podcast interviews on subjects that resonate with your brand
- Gaining Board certification as a next step in pursuing a Board seat
- Completing an executive-level credential
Continue to document these brand-building activities for inclusion in your personal career marketing documents and social media profiles.
5 – Identify and leverage the right channels to promote your brand.
Your brand elements, achievements, and themes can be used to continually strengthen your presence on social media and in your industry.
On social media, write carefully curated posts and comments, along with a robust profile that displays and allows you to sharpen your brand message.
You can also disseminate this information by using a branded biography or executive resume when speaking at an industry event, joining a Board, or contributing content to industry publications.
This information can stay online for YEARS, helping shape your leadership reputation and providing an introduction to new connections and employers.
At this point, you’ve now built a compelling executive brand. The idea is to continually reinforce it through information and action.
Building your executive brand is both a documentation and purposeful marketing effort.
Defining the elements of your brand, adjusting it to focus on desirable expertise, and leveraging it as a crucial asset in everyday activities puts your value proposition on display 100% of the time.
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