Branding is a critical part of an organization’s success; it’s the expression of their identity and what people connect with on a deeper level. When you look at the companies dominating the market, you’ll often find that you can easily understand what they’re about based on their branding.
As marketers, managing our own respective careers and professional identities is not a far cry from what it might look like to manage a brand’s identity.
So, it’s time to ask yourself: if people had to buy into you, what would your brand be?
While leading a Virtual Roundtable on personal branding, Dave Minifie, Chief Experience Officer, Centene, and Drew Neisser, Founder & CEO, Renegade, set out to establish a strategic approach – a roadmap if you will – to define the most important components when it comes to marketing the most valuable brand you will ever manage in your career.
Approach Personal Branding, as Simply “Branding”
The challenge here is that most people will try to create a persona based on traditional KPIs – sales, conversions, successful campaigns, etc. – and while positive metrics are your best calling card, they are not always the most effective tool to accurately present who you are and what you bring to the table as a leader.
Results are just one piece of the puzzle; they’re your products and services, but not necessarily the values people buy into. You know well that, in marketing, not every role and action is measurable. While you can only succeed and move up when numbers are going up, there’s a unique opportunity in the gray areas – the intangible assets you possess. The exclusive approach and insight only your experiences and abilities can provide will allow you to build a narrative based on your strengths as a marketer and a leader.
Distinguish your Brand
- Define who you are and what you do – turn it into a compelling story.
- Think personality vs. brand. These should align and complement each other, playing on your strengths.
- Drill down until you can get a tagline for yourself. Practice by writing a headline for you as a brand and make sure it sets you apart and highlights the things you do best (ex: are you a fixer? A start-up CMO? A performance ninja?)
- Seek candid feedback. Test your headline running it past your spouse, significant other or select group of people who know you personally and can attest or refute your pitch (and who will lend critical feedback in the name of helping you advance your career).
- Find language that accurately represents your stance. The same way brands communicate in the language their consumers speak, present your brand in a way that matches – and even disrupts – your niche.
People can smell inauthenticity a mile away. The more aligned with your personal values and beliefs that your professional brand is, the quicker and stronger the connections. Be candid about what you want to develop and share your experiences as you embark on the journey toward getting where you want to be. And remember, part of your personal brand can be aspirational. In fact, showing that you want to grow – and in which direction – can in itself be a subset of your brand and persona.
Once you’ve honed in on your most authentic personal brand, activate it socially. Write about it and amplify it in creative ways – you don’t have to be a writer or start your own blog. Leverage existing platforms such as Linkedin, Medium or a company blog where you can bring value to your own brand and your company by exploring the topics that matter to you and showcase your marketing style.
Prioritize Your Brand
“But I don’t have time” is one of the most common objections CMOs have to building their personal brand.
To that, there is simply one response: Make time!
This is a worthwhile investment that will continue to pay off years down the road. Even if you are in a position that you feel passionate about now, it’s important to continuously work on yourself. In the end, becoming a presence to be reckoned will benefit both you and the organizations you work with, create space to generate content (and possible speaking engagements?) and open doors that you may not even know are there yet.
Time-strapped CMOs shared their tips for sneaking in opportunities to build your personal brand – on and off the clock:
- Find topics you’re passionate about and talk or write about it. It’s easier to commit to developing a topic if you’re invested in it.
- Look for collaborative opportunities and spaces where you can interact with people.
- Look at your schedule for those incremental openings where you might be able to send an email, have a phone call, or have breakfast with someone.
- Frame networking as something that helps you do your job better. Not something you do just when you are looking for a new role.
- Practice reciprocal networking – provide as much value as you seek.
- Schedule time for your personal brand proactively.
- Comment on breaking news and matters relevant to your niche to become a go-to source.
Building a personal brand is really like building any brand; you already have a personal brand equity, you just need to sit down and establish where you are with it and where you would like to be. Determine what makes you, as a person, someone people would like to work with in the future and make it known. Start today by completely filling out your Linkedin profile and leverage the space and visibility it provides to cultivate an online persona, then, start to build a social media presence and network within the industry you want to be aligned with.
The benefits will grow exponentially as your brand becomes more and more established, since you’ll develop contacts and reputation that turn people into influencers with the power to sway tides and make waves.
If you are working on your personal branding and want help, Drew Neisser has offered to provide CMO Club members his personal branding worksheet and help evaluate your responses. You can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.