Easy tools to use to build your personal and CEO brand

A great deal of the buzz around personal and CEO branding seems to center on the latest and greatest technologies and trends. But it’s often the most obvious things that have the biggest brand impact.

In fact, just the idea of creating a C-suite executive or CEO brand is only now beginning to take hold. Many leaders still consider this a nice to have, but not required, luxury.

However, according to a recent Burson-Marsteller “CEO Reputation Study,” close to 50 percent of the reputation of a company can be attributed to the standing of its CEO. Like it or not, building an executive or CEO brand is a requirement in today’s digital world.

Here are five commonly overlooked, yet easy to implement, personal branding tools that every leader should take advantage of in building their personal brand.

  1. Set a Google Alert on Yourself. When a reporter, client, or colleague Googles your name, what comes up? One way to keep track of who’s saying what about you on the net is to set a Google Alert on yourself.
    Once it’s set up, you will automatically receive an email when you’re mentioned online. This way if you don’t like what you see, you can take a proactive stance in shaping the narrative of your personal brand.
    For example: One of my clients had lost a lot of weight but had old photos showing up online. He contacted the sites hosting these previous pics of his heavier self and asked if they would mind replacing them with new, updated photos he would provide. Almost all agreed and within a few weeks, his newer, slimmer self was what came up when potential clients searched his name.
  1. Design Custom Images. Facebook and Twitter posts, PowerPoint presentations, and information sheets are all an underused opportunity to build your brand. Design tools such as Canva offer a free, easy way to craft custom images that give a visual feel to your personal brand.
  1. Know Your Personal Brand Keywords. If you think keywords are just for your business brand, think again. You can translate this idea to your C-suite executive or CEO brand by first identifying the general keywords and phrases that best describe the space you want to establish thought leadership in.
    For example, one of my clients is a senior executive at a biotech firm in the Silicon Valley. Her personal brand keywords are not centered around just biotech but also several broader categories including: female executives, women’s leadership, women in biotech, etc.
    By knowing these specific keywords and phrases, she is able to build her brand by integrating them into her bio, social media, and content marketing.
  1. Create a Brand Cheat Sheet. In a 140-character world, people have less patience than ever to read through a résumé or long-form bio.
    Tools such as BrandYourself allow you to create a cheat sheet on your personal brand, where a short profile will come up when people put your name into a search engine.
    Another version of this idea is to generate a PDF personal brand one sheet that can be emailed to inquiring minds looking to find out more.
  1. Maximize Your Professional Headline. LinkedIn, the biggest of the B2B social media sites, allows a brief personal brand description in the professional headline space (located just under your name).
    This is prime personal-branding real estate that executives too often don’t take advantage of. Don’t just list your job title in the space, but instead use your keywords to make your major personal brand points.
    For example: My client Kevin Layton’s professional headline simply read: “CEO at Data-Dynamix Inc.” We rewrote it to better brand him and take advantage of the maximum space available. Now it reads:
    “CEO at Data-Dynamix Inc., Digital Marketing Strategist, Driving Revenue, Maximizing Business Value, Inc. 5000 Winner.”
    These changes, while small, immediately elevated Kevin’s CEO brand.
    Not sure about where to start? Check out the Google Keyword Planner, a free tool that identifies the best-performing keywords in your desired field.

Remember, in a world where 74 percent of all Internet users use social media, you can count on being checked out online — on a regular basis. Be ready to show your personal brand best when you are.

Karen Leland is founder of Sterling Marketing Group and author of the new book The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand. www.karenleland.com