You're skeptical about creating and leveraging your personal brand in your business.
You’re the CEO of the business, but you’re wary of tying yourself into the business brand.
Perhaps you feel like getting too involved could take the focus off results. Or, you have the future in mind. Because if you exit the business one day, you don’t want your personal brand so tied into it that the business brand follows you everywhere.
I get it.
I also get that you may not feel confident about the power of your brand.
Maybe you think that your business doesn’t need it…
You don’t have the authority…
So why would anyone care?
I get it.
But I also want you to understand this important thing…
Your personal brand is your power!
You built this business.
That means you poured your heart and soul into it. Your magic made it all possible. Your ability to create transformation is the lynchpin of the entire enterprise.
Injecting your personal brand into your business helps you build deeper connections with your clients.
And it also gives you something you can leverage in the future.
I know this from experience because I’ve worked with somebody who was wary of using his personal brand.
The IT CEO and His Personal Brand
Some time ago, when I first started my career, I worked with a company that represented a lot of IT businesses in Australia. My role was to represent these companies, both politically and to the broader community.
We also ran awards shows and similar events on their behalf.
The board of this larger organization contained some of the leading IT CEOs in the country at the time. And there was one, in particular, who was a very well-known person.
I won’t tell you his name for confidentiality reasons.
But what I will tell you is that he had name recognition that he wasn’t leveraging!
I remember sitting in a café in Sydney with him one day. We had breakfast and we started talking about how to leverage the organization and all of the brands that sit underneath it.
How do we create a community around the idea of IT driving economic growth in Australia?
That’s when I brought up leveraging the personal brands of the people on the board.
I was only in my 20s at the time, so I was pretty new to the game. However, I instinctively knew that the stories these people could tell had power. I knew that we could weave those stories into the narrative we wanted to build about the growth of the tech industry.
And I knew those stories could inspire younger people to take up a career in tech.
The industry would grow, and we’d capture the essence of what we stood for!
This IT CEO listened patiently as I told him that the IT world wasn’t just about the big business brands. It wasn’t just about Microsoft, Dell, and Canon…
It was about the people at the helm of these brands.
The CEOs and their personal brands were the things that were going to inspire real change in the industry. That human element would drive change because it would give regular people something to connect to.
He entertained the idea for a moment…
Then he told me that change and movement never had anything to do with the personal brand of a CEO. He also said that leveraging his personal brand came with inherent risks.
He could end up tying himself so intrinsically into his current business that it wouldn’t be possible to separate the two.
And ultimately, he felt that it would devalue the company.
We had a great conversation from there, both of us expressing our opposing viewpoints. But in the end, I assumed that I hadn’t achieved my goal of getting this CEO to leverage his personal brand.
Fast forward to a few years later.
The CEO ended up moving on from the company he helmed. He went on to hold some substantial board positions.
And in the process, he became a well-known personal brand.
Today, he’s the CEO of another large tech company. But I can see that he’s leveraging his personal brand in every way that he can.
I see him represented in the media and on-stage. And more importantly, I know that having that brand gives him the opportunity to do whatever he dares with his career.
The Moral of the Story
What can we learn from this story?
There’s nothing wrong with building a strong personal brand alongside your business brand. You can do both in parallel because it’s good for the company and it’s good for you if you ever exit.
Your personal brand gives you the chance to explore your passions.
It allows you to build equity that you can take into any new business that you become a part of.
And most importantly, it brings the human element into what you do. Your brand engages people and helps you to build connections that serve you throughout your career.
To prove that to yourself, I want you to think about the companies that people link to. Every iconic company in the world is invariably linked to a human element and personality.
Apple and Steve Jobs…
Microsoft and Bill Gates…
Tesla and Elon Musk…
Disney and Walt Disney!
In fact, Disney is one of my favorite examples of this.
Everything about that company comes back to the power of Walt’s personality. Even today, many years after his death, Walt’s core philosophies guide Disney. He’s become mythical, and iconic, because he linked his personal brand with his business brand.
When Walt was alive, he wasn’t ever truly accessible to the masses.
But he created myths…
He built legends…
And when somebody came to work for Disney, they came into his world.
Disney’s millions of customers do the same thing.
When you watch a Disney movie, you’re seeing Walt’s philosophy brought to life on the screen. And when you visit a Disney theme park, you’re standing in the realization of Walt’s vision.
It’s almost like Disney is the church and Walt is the founding pastor.
Disney, as a business brand, is more powerful because of Walt’s influence.
I want you to think about that if you still feel skeptical about building your personal brand.
I know you’re worried about building the myth of you into your business. But it’s that very myth that empowers your business and helps it to connect to people.
It’s also that myth that prepares you if you want to exit.
When you leave the business, people will follow you because they’re connected to you. That’s how you seamlessly create your disruptive legacy while gaining access to the luxury end of the market!
Your Brand Is Your Power
That is my message to any CEOs out there.
Yes, I understand your concerns about tying your personal brand into the business you run. And you will have different circumstances than the people I’ve talked about in this article.
But those aren’t reasons to dismiss the idea of leveraging your personal brand outright.
It’s your personality, your myth, your legend, that people connect to. Your personal brand is the little bit of magic that you sprinkle onto a business to make it truly special.
Don’t underestimate its power!
I’d love to have the opportunity to talk to you about personal brands in more detail. If you have challenges in this area that you want to work through, Icons Incorporated is here for you.