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Develop your CEO’s star power to enhance brand equity

Develop your CEO’s star power to enhance brand equity

Even if your company offers the most useful, affordable and brilliant products and/or services, and carries out the most laudable CSR actions, your reputation could still be at risk if the audience judges your company on your CEO’s reputation, and they happen not to like his/her personality. On the other hand, you can leverage a CEO’s good reputation to further enhance your efforts to promote your products and/or services, so why not take advantage? The importance of the brand ambassador Below is an example of an opinion on Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs that collected 28,321 points (the equivalent of “likes” left after counting all the “dislikes”) and 477 comments. Although 9GAG might not be the best example to reflect the opinion of your investors, it shows nevertheless that there are strong opinions circulating on the web, and they need to be taken care of whether it is to reduce brand misalignments, encourage brand endorsements or simply to have a clear picture of how the community perceives your brand at a given time.

CEO reputation Gates vs Jobs
Example of strong opinion on highly media exposed CEOs.

As Cheryl Connor explained so well in her article for Forbes entitled 5 New Reasons CEOs Should Maintain Stellar Online Reputation Management: “Customers may consider a CEO’s reputation before buying from or endorsing a company”, and “shareholders may consider a CEO’s reputation before investing”. Putting a face on your company helps to develop your social media persona, which in turn can ultimately impact your revenue. See for yourself: in the list below, do any of these names ring a bell to you?

  1. Richard Branson
  2. Marissa Meyer
  3. Tim Cook
  4. Bernard Arnault
  5. Satya Nadella
  6. Mark Zuckerberg
  7. Larry Page
  8. Eric Schmidt
  9. Sergey Brin
  10. Michael O’Leary
  11. Dietrich Mateschitz
  12. Ferdinand Piëch
  13. Elon Musk

Congratulations, you have identified the CEOs of Virgin, Yahoo, Apple, LVMH, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Ryanair, Red Bull, Volkswagen and Tesla Motors. Over a period of just over a month (Sep 21 – Oct 21, 2014), they have generated 839,340 mentions of their names on the web, with Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Eric Schmidt, and Satya Nadella in the top 6 most talked about celebrity CEOs from the list mentioned above. Share of Topics using Talkwalker - CEOs

This illustration shows the volume of online mentions for these much discussed CEOs. Each and every one of them are talked about for different reasons and with different communication strategies, but Mark Zuckerberg triggers the most conversations with 38.2% of the total volume of mentions for the 13 CEOs. It is also paramount for CEOs to be aware of their personal online reputation to better position themselves, adjust their messaging to the press and compare themselves to the competition.

What your brand encompasses Brand equity, as you may know, is the intangible value of a brand’s reputation which can lead to higher financial value. So not only should marketers focus on highlighting their product or service, but they should also seek to enhance the image of the key people in their company as part of the company brand, or as a brand in their own right. If managed well, this will trigger awareness and appreciation from consumers and investors alike. A study by the PR firm Weber-Shandwick suggests that 60% of a company’s market value is derived from its reputation, so working on your CEO’s PR is likely to attract investment as well. Rob Ashgar’s interesting tips to help individuals ‘shine’ without turning into narcissists – is definitely worth a read. But there are other tactics you can plan and work on so your CEO, chief strategist, or sales director can stay on top of conversations online.

The key is to constantly provide enough material for your audience to talk about, so you can catch your audience’s attention and trigger opinion and discussions within your community, the size of which is usually dependent on the amount of effort you put into your communication campaigns. Tip: If your online reputation efforts serve to attract new investors and/or maintain excellent relationships with current ones, read this complete guide on investor relations using social media for the best practices!

Do you have any stories to share concerning a CEO’s blunder having a negative effect on company sales? Or perhaps a clever PR action by a CEO which led to increased revenue? I would love to hear them in the comments below or on Twitter @Talkwalker!

Photo credit: Chuck Hagel on Flickr, cropped to 1024x582.