written by: Lai Ho Tin, Sky

Brand building has been on every company agenda since as long as it is. In the age of digital proliferation, the branding of the CEO matters a lot to a company. According to a study by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research in 2015, global executives attributed 45% and 44% of their company’s reputation and market value to the reputation of their CEO, showing that CEO branding is critical to the company well-being.

Differentiate, attract attention, depicts innovation and values
Reputable CEOs stand out from the crowd and differentiate from competitors. They help attract potential customers, employees and investors. Steve Jobs exemplified how personal branding and charisma of a CEO worked on the talent acquisition. John Sculley, the President of Pepsi, decided to join Apple after Steve Jobs asked him a question “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”. The deeds of a CEO establish an innovative leadership image for a company. Take Richard Branson as an example, he is branded as a pioneering international entrepreneur and an adventurer who loves breaking rules. More importantly, CEO is stand for the vision, beliefs and values of a company.

Good example (Jack Ma of Alibaba)
There are three main reasons why Jack Ma establishes himself as an amazing leader. Firstly, He brands himself as a successful entrepreneur in Internet & E-commerce industry without remarkable background. He touches and inspires millions of youngsters and middle-aged people with ordinary background to start their business or pursue their dreams. Secondly, Jack Ma always shares his vision and views to the general public instead of hard-selling its new products and services. He hopes Alibaba Group takes more responsibilities to solve emerging global issues and helps developing countries and small enterprises to enjoy the benefit of globalization. Thirdly, he puts his vision into action. He spent around 1000 hours last year on the flight travelling around the globe to meet various government officials and business leaders for facilitating the globalization of trade such as creating job opportunities and profit-making platforms for the people and small enterprises in the United States.

Bad example (Travis Kalanick of Uber)
On the contrary, Travis Kalanick was forced to resign from the CEO position of Uber partly due to his bad personal branding. In Feb 2017, Kalanick stepped down from Donald Trump’s economic advisory council following intense criticism and “DeleteUber” protest. Kalanick was blamed for supporting the ban of immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries even though he refuted that joining the council was not meant to be an endorsement of the president’s agenda. In the same month, Kalanick was caught yelling at a Uber driver over disputed fares. Although he apologized for his behavior afterwards, people had already dubious whether he genuinely respects Uber’s valuable assets with his attitude towards the drivers.
There is no doubt about the necessity and the importance of establishing CEO branding. There is also no way to guarantee perfect CEO branding. The only way a CEO can do is “Be Yourself”.

References:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vja8nIqVUw0 https://www.fastcompany.com/1841963/4-pillars-successful-brand-building-hootsuite-ceo-ryan-holmes
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/278157
http://www.brandunion.com/insight/2015-12-10/324/ceo-brand-and-corporate-brand-a-new-age-marriage
https://www.forbes.com/sites/85broads/2013/06/10/whats-your-ceo-brand/#6fb787152f60
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/02/travis-kalanick-delete-uber-leaves-trump-council
https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2014/09/24/5-reasons-why-ceos-need-to-promote-their-personal-brand/#7b622ae52a4d
http://www.personadesign.ie/ceo-brand-leadership-how-vision-drives-brand-growth/
http://www.sfweekly.com/news/top-10-reasons-uber-fired-ceo-travis-kalanick/
http://www.sfweekly.com/news/protest-slams-uber-despite-ceo-dumping-trump/ http://fortune.com/2017/03/24/jack-ma-alibaba-china-ecommerce-world-greatest-leaders/ http://chiefexecutive.net/building-ceo-brand-can-also-build-better-company/ https://martinroll.com/resources/articles/leadership/brands-ceos-and-strategy/https://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/letscorp_archive/archives/53389 http://finance.sina.com.cn/leadership/crz/20150316/142121730970.shtml https://www.recode.net/2017/2/28/14766964/video-uber-travis-kalanick-driver-argument