Why Crafting Your CEO Brand Should Be a Priority in Your New Role as CEO

“Honestly, I’m surprised at the difference that my personally being on social media makes.”

“I had no idea how much more of a public face I would need to show.”

“I’ve stopped fighting the idea that I need to fully embrace having a personal brand as part of being a CEO.”

These are just some of the comments that have come my way from new CEOs in the past few months. Many, if not most, are surprised to learn just how necessary it is for them to create a strong CEO brand in their new role as the chief brand ambassador of their companies.

Those who do catch on, realize that creating a CEO brand is a powerful way to position their leadership and build the brand of the business. Here are three important ways to pursue your personal brand as a new CEO.

Find your flavor of thought leadership.

One of the challenges every new CEO faces is in defining their thought leadership style. This requires thinking through the three distinct tones of thought leadership and determining which one would best suit your CEO brand.

Celebrity. These CEOs are best known for their personality. In a very real way, their character and style are the essence of the brand. Examples include: Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, and Oprah Winfrey.

Cerebral. At the heart of their CEO brand these leaders are best known for their thinking and ideas. Examples include: Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Consequential. This thought leadership is centered around results and the CEOs are best known for their accomplishments. Examples include: Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Determining which variety of thought leadership, you want your CEO brand to be known for, is critical to generating the tactical strategy you plan on putting in place.

Get your social on.

One report by BRANDfog reported that 75 percent of those surveyed perceive that C-Suite and executive leadership is improved by participation on social media. Being a social CEO keeps you from getting left in the online dust. At a minimum you need to decide which social media platform best suits your style. Take some time to think through which site matches your time and talents best. For example:

  • If you’re a good writer, consider a weekly blog on either your company website or as a contributing writer for an online site that fits your industry.
  • Does your business or industry lend itself to an ongoing stream of information that can be broken down into short bits? You may want to create a CEO Twitter profile or regularly weigh in on your company account.
  • Looking to connect with other senior executives in the B2B space? Consider writing a weekly article on LinkedIn and pushing it out to your contacts and groups.

Get out in front of the news media.

The more reporters covering your industry who get to know you, the greater the chance they will call you when they need a source to interview. The typical approach is to hire a PR firm to write up and send out a press release promoting you as a new CEO with the latest and greatest information on a given topic.

The smarter action, however, is to do a more proactive campaign based on a carefully crafted story, opinion, or specific content pertaining to a relevant and timely topic. For example is there some event, trend or happening in the news that you should be weighing in on? Just remember that before you jump headlong into media interviews, you want to get your sound bites down.

Almost every executive who contacts me about establishing a new CEO brand knows it’s something they need to do, but are usually at a loss for where to start. The basics – an up to date LinkedIn profile, a current headshot, and solid bio that shows your achievements and commitments are key. Beyond that, the smartest new CEOs know that establishing an active online presence and becoming a media go resource for media are an important way to plant your flag and say “I’m here and ready to go.”

This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

Going Crazy Trying to Keep Up on Every Social Media Platform? Stop!

Recently a new branding client called me in a panic saying, “We have to get on Snapchat. It’s the hottest thing. We can’t miss the boat.” I gently pointed out to the client that their core customer was women age 45-60, more likely the Pinterest — not the Snapchat — crowd.

This intense pressure to keep up with the online Joneses has led to a flurry of action, but not necessarily impact. The idea that you should be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and more leads many business owners to join each and every social media network–but do none of them well.

Instead, I encourage my small-business clients to think through the following three critical questions before choosing which social media sites to focus on:

1. Where and how does our ideal audience(s) consume their information?

Are they more likely to be reading blogs at Inc.com or surfing their Twitter feed three times a day? The answers help determine the social media site(s) that makes the best use of your resources.

2. What are the demographics of the various sites?

It’s important to take into consideration the details of each site you are considering. For example:

Facebook. According to the Pew report, 72 percent of female and 63 percent of male Internet users are on Facebook, equaling over a billion users a month. The site also has a strong presence across several age groups with a majority being 18- to 29-year-olds, but with solid users in the 30-49 and 50-64 brackets as well.

For businesses that have a strong business-to-consumer component, Facebook is a great place to showcase your brand personality since the site supports posting pictures, quotes, and fun updates–all opportunities to present your brand narrative to followers.

Twitter. Twitter has an estimated 250 million unique monthly visitors but according to the Pew report is marginally more popular with males and with users ages 18-29. Unlike LinkedIn, where status updates can be weekly, successful Tweeters post at least 2-3 times a day, but no more than 8-10. Businesses using Twitter as a main social media strategy need to have a significant amount of how-to and informational tips, ideas, strategies, and suggestions they can tweet.

LinkedIn. Considered the top B2B site for professionals, LinkedIn tends to attract an older, more educated and higher earning crowd than its competitors. One report by Royal Pingdom reveals that 79 percent of LinkedIn users are 35 or older. In short, LinkedIn is all about business. According to Lab42, top-level executives primarily use LinkedIn for industry networking and promoting their business.

Pinterest. Pinterest is best known for appealing to a mostly female audience, with 72 percent of users being women at an average age of between 25 and 54. Twenty-five percent of Pinterest users have earned a bachelor’s or higher degree, and the majority have a household income of between $25,000 and $75,000.

3. Do we have the time, talent, and/or money to pursue this social media tactic with excellence?

Another client I was working with–the CEO of a mid-cap high-tech firm–felt strongly that writing a regular blog would be of great benefit to his CEO brand and his company brand. The problem? He wasn’t a very good writer.

I suggested someone from his staff might take on capturing his ideas and turning them into initial blog posts. Sadly, no such person existed. As for hiring a professional writer, the costs–given the quality the client wanted–were prohibitive.

In the final analysis the client settled on a strategy featuring a monthly, rather than a weekly, blog. He also went whole hog on his Twitter strategy–reaching out to influencers in their space to gain brand recognition.

Regardless of which direction you decide to take your social media strategy in, the most important aspects to building your brand online are consistency and quality. Don’t let your social media accounts go idle, and don’t bombard your followers with promotion-only posts.

Let the particular medium dictate what and how often you tweet, post, or pin, and you will be on your way to branding your business like a pro.

This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

New Research Gives Insight To Decoding Trump’s Tweets & His Personality

Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name…” but as it turns out, that’s not quite true–at least when it comes to Twitter. The words you use to craft your messages speak volumes about your personality.

The power of your words.

As a branding and marketing strategist, I am continually nagging my clients about the power of words. Especially those that are etched in perpetuity on the Web. In particular how the words they use – even unconsciously – convey their emotional, social and thinking styles.

In fact, there are researchers out there whose whole area of expertise is dedicated to the field of psycholinguistics.These word warriors have a whole arsenal of tools at their disposal, but for us ordinary folk, here’s a fun one that can give you a quick analysis of your personality –all courtesy of your most recent tweets: http://analyzewords.com.

So how do your tweets compare to typical titans of industry and even, a President of the Untied States?

Two researchers, Martin Obschonka (Queensland University of Technology) and Christian Fisch (Trier University in Germany) wanted to know what Trump’s tweets say about his personality. So they paired up to analyze the tweets of Donald J. Trump and compare his personality traits with those of other influential businesspeople, none of whom are politicians–at least not yet. The leaders they compared Trump’s tweets to included:

  • Eric Schmidt (Google)
  • Meg Whitman (HP)
  • Tim Cook (Apple)
  • Elon Musk (Tesla)
  • Michael Dell (Dell)
  • Jeff Bezos (Amazon)

A Schumpeterian personality.

The researchers employed specific software to assess the language Trump used in 3,200 tweets issued by October 2016 (prior to his becoming president). Their results indicate that Trump shows strong tendencies toward a “Schumpeterian” personality, a personality the researchers say is common in successful entrepreneurs. The nomenclature stems from Joseph Schumpeter, who in the 1930s described this business type as:

  • very creative
  • change-orientated
  • competitive
  • rule-breaking

Critical qualities in a CEO, business owner entrepreneur, or even a President of the United States.

Using words on Twitter that convey these ideas, can help to craft your brand. For example using words such as inventive, original, stimulating and leading-edge, convey creativity.

Want to be seen as competitive in your Twitter feed? Incorporate words such as ambitious, rival and street wise.

Further analysis of the the Donald’s tweets indicated that Trump also has certain neurotic tendencies and experiences underlying low well-being. Obschonka and Fisch wrote about their research in an article titled “Entrepreneurial Personalities in Political Leadership” for the journal Small Business Economics. The two expounded on their findings to ScienceDaily.

“These traits are rather untypical for entrepreneurs since working as an entrepreneur may not only require emotional stability and optimism but also be able to increase happiness due to procedural utility,” explains Obschonka. Obschonka and Fisch caution that leading a company is distinctly different from leading a country. The jury is still out as to whether a president (or any political leader, for that matter) with such an enormous entrepreneurial bent can translate that style into the successful leadership of government.

So take a few moments and check out your tweets. the language you use might just tell you whether you’ve got the stuff (or not) to be the next commander in chief.

This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

Three Branding & Marketing Lessons You Can’t Afford to Miss from MoMa

Three Branding & Marketing Lessons You Can’t Afford to Miss from MoMa

Earlier this week I went to a preview of the MoMA NYC exhibit Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends.

This extensive retrospective of the artist’s work–the first in the twenty-first century–is a celebration of his collaborations with other artists, dancers, and musicians. The exhibit, which opens Saturday, May 20th, 2017, presents 250 works from six decades of his career, and got my branding brain and marketing mind all aflutter with inspiration. Here are three simple marketing ideas worth mentioning:

1. Put a new twist on old technology

The creative approach: Upon arriving I was given the pro forma option of using a self-directed audio tour for the exhibit. But instead of the clunky CD player of the past, I was presented with the new MoMA Audio+ mobile guide, a sleek iPod device (replete with touch screen controls) that fit lightly into the palm of my hand.

The most unique thing about the player was that it went beyond the functional “press one to play the patter about the art piece” feature and instead created an interactive experience from the start with such features as emailing yourself links which recap your visit for the day and copies of audio descriptions for selected pieces in the exhibit.

The branding and marketing takeaway: Offering these features allows the museum to instantly capture not only your contact information–but scads of information about your preferences and tastes. In fact, they immediately send you an email thanking you for visiting.

Ask yourself: In what creative ways could we use our existing technology to enhance and expand the brand beyond the initial customer experience?

2. Create a new name and solve the problem

The creative approach: In 1953 Rauschenberg created a series of paintings known as the Red Paintings. The pieces incorporated elements of paper bags, fabric, metal, wood, mirrors, lights, and more. The artist noticed that rather than looking at the piece, viewers would stand in front of the work and argue about whether it was a painting or a sculpture. To solve the situation, Rauschenberg began calling the work Combines. “The next time someone asked me,” said Rauschenberg, “I said ‘Combine.’ After that no one asked.”

The branding and marketing takeaway: What you call things matters. I often work with companies who have struggled to come up with a name (for a company, team, product, etc.) that is both catchy and evokes meaning. While naming can be a complex process, sometimes a literal take on the topic (as with Rauschenberg’s Red series) does the trick.

Ask yourself: Is there something we need to rename that would make it easier to understand and more relatable?

3. Don’t get stuck in the old, instead let collaboration create something new

The creative approach: One of the most unusual collaborations in the MoMA exhibit is Minutiae –a collaboration between the artist and Merce Cunningham, an icon of American modern dance. Cunningham requested that Rauschenberg create a work to go with a performance he had choreographed–but didn’t want the piece to function only as a backdrop but rather be integrated into something the dancers could use. The result was Rauschenberg’s first free-standing “Combine,” an artwork that stood on the floor–rather than being hung–and that the dancers could move in and out of.

The branding and marketing takeaway: It’s easy to get into the habit of doing things the way they have always been done. Testing out creative collaborations–especially with those who have a different background, perspective, or talent than ours–can lead to out-of-the-box ideas, solutions, and creations. Rauschenberg himself was keenly aware of this dynamic.

Rauschenberg is perhaps most famous for his iconic silkscreens featuring a series of 150 images in various combinations for which he won the grand prize at the Venice Biennale in 1964. His response to this honor was to call a friend and request that he destroy the screens so he would not be tempted to repeat himself.

Ask yourself: Is there an unexpected partner we could collaborate with on a project, product, or process who could bring fresh ideas and a new way of looking at how we usually do things?

Art can be a powerful force of creative inspiration. According to art historian Jonathan Fineberg, author of Modern Art at the Border of Mind and Brain.

In a 2015 interview with NPR, Fineberg said that seeing “is inherently a very creative act, and you’re constantly revising what you think you see… Less than 20 percent of what we see actually comes from the eye,” he said. “Most of it comes from processing in the brain and the visual cortex, and that comes from memories, reason, emotion, and all kinds of other things.” His conclusion? Looking at visual images can supercharge your brain’s creativity.

So the next time you feel like you need a little mojo to get your creative juices flowing, take a break and peruse the works at your local museum. You just might find that there’s a little bit of Robert Rauschenberg inside of you, waiting to get out.

This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

Are You Sick and Tired Of Counting Characters?

Are You Sick and Tired Of Counting Characters?

Lately I’ve been realizing that small and insignificant, but necessary, items eat up a significant portion of my worktime. For example – counting the amount of characters or words I’m using when composing something. Character limits are all the rage these days.  For example:

Pinterest gives you 500 characters for a description

• Twitter 140 for a tweet

• Title tags have no limit but only display 70 characters

• Meta descriptions have no limit but only first 155 characters are displayed in Google search results

• Description tags on LinkedIn longer than 225 characters will be truncated (oouch)

• Facebook only displays the first 300 characters of a description

• Online contact information is often limited to a certain amount of characters or words

While I recognize the necessity of limiting would be Leo Tolstoy’s from trying to turn their Pinterest profile into War and Peace, it can be very annoying to craft the perfect tweet only to discover it’s 6 characters over the limit.  



So if you’re tired of cutting and pasting or checking your word/character count every ten seconds to insure that you stay within the prescribed limit, check out one of the these many free services on the web. Just type in your text, click and there you have it, your total word or character count.  Here are a few to check out:

www.lettercount.com/ A bonus with this site is they provide a whole how to on writing with fewer letter including a recommended reading list of great authors who wrote short.


www.charcounter.com/ This site lets you count with or without white spaces.

Whichever of these sites you use, to tighten your text do the following:

 • Substitute longer words with something shorter. For example instead of saying using beneficial say useful – a savings of  4 characters.

 • Remember to take into account any hashtags or URL’s you plan on including, so you don’t use up all your characters on the message itself.

 • Shorten your sentences, but make them complete. That’s the challenge, to sound smart and snappy all at the same time. 

 • Remain keyword rich. A limit on words or characters is no excuse to just throw keywords to the wind. Pick at least one and place it in your text.

Believe it or not, just using a simple tool such as a character counter can shave minutes off of the time it takes to compose a tweet or write a Pinterest description.

And in a world where 140 characters can make or break a news story, every minute counts.  

For more time management tips check out my book Time Management In An Instant.

For more tips on using Pinterest  check out my new book  Entrepreneur Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to Pinterest for Business

Karen Leland is the best-selling author of eight business books and president of Sterling Marketing Group , where she works with executives, high-end entrepreneurs, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies to build their personal, team and business brands.

Spring Cleaning for Your Brand

Spring Cleaning for Your Brand

Every spring, I get an itch to go through my closets and rid myself of clothes that no longer seem to suit me. What begins as a sartorial purging usually expands into a clearing out and cleaning up of my desk drawers, computer desktop and office files. Over the last few years, I’ve expanded this list to include an annual spring-cleaning of my brand. Brands are organic — they grow and change over time. Without a regular review, they can become stale. To give your brand a good dusting off this season, consider the following:

This is a short excerpt from a blog post I did for Entrepreneur.com. Read the rest of the post.


Dos and Don’ts for your Profile Photo

Dos and Don’ts for your Profile Photo

If you’re one of those people who thinks that the new year is a good time to post an updated profile picture to your Pinterest page and other social media sites, I would agree. Visuals are a key component of many social networks. Let’s face it: We have all shaken our heads those unfortunate profile photos of people doing tequila shots in their bathrobe. Don’t let this be you.

This is a short excerpt from a blog post written for Entrepreneur.com. Read the rest of the article.

Pinterest Boards to Boost Your Brand

Pinterest Boards to Boost Your Brand

As a growing number of consumers jump on the Pinterest bandwagon, the opportunities to use the social-media site for business have grown exponentially.  What is Pinterest? The bulletin-board-style social image sharing website is a relatively new social-media phenomenon, created just two years ago and rapidly became one of the largest online social networks.

This is a short excerpt from a blog post written for Entrepreneur.com. Read the rest of the article here.