Once you have answered the questions above, you’ll have a clearer idea of the kind of leader you currently are and who you’re going to be.
Now, it’s time to create your leadership brand. Below, we outlined six actionable steps to brand yourself as a leader.
1. Determine Your Goals
What results do you want to achieve with your leadership brand?
Goal setting is crucial to establish a clear path, determine the challenges, and motivate yourself to work on your leadership brand.
Some common goals for developing a leadership brand include:
- Attracting more customers to the business
- Gaining the trust of investors
- Winning the heart of your teammates
- Landing a specific role or project in the organization
When building a leadership brand, determine your goals that you want to achieve in the next 6-12 months.
2. Identify What You Want to Be Known For
In the previous section, we have identified the traits most admired in your workplace.
Now, it’s time to assess which of these traits you currently exhibit, and which you can and should include in your personal leadership brand.
Let’s take a look at this example:
George is known for his technical proficiency at work. However, he is known to be an independent worker.
The team he wants to lead admires a leader that:
- Has great decision-making abilities
- Demonstrates effective problem-solving skills
- Imparts knowledge to the team
To support his goal of advancing his career, George needs to balance his innate qualities and the traits critical to his aspired position.
Since George is also passionate about teaching, he sees imparting his knowledge to the team as an opportunity to communicate his value.
That’s why he decided to focus his brand on establishing his image as a mentor.
This example illustrates how identifying the hero stories in your organization can help you decide the image you want to project in your brand.
3. Define Your Leadership Identity
The next step is to go into the finer details of your personal leadership brand.
Here, we’ll identify how you should act to achieve what you want to be known for.
In the example above, George wants to be known as a mentor. But what kind of mentor?
Being technically proficient, he wants to be seen as an expert in his field. Although he is knowledgeable about his field, his peers see him as a respectful leader to others.
And he wants to incorporate this in his branding.
But above all else, he wants to encourage people to step out of their comfort zones.
As someone who values learning, he sees this as a way to grow and have new experiences in their career.
By identifying the hero stories and taking your personal values and skills into consideration, it is easier to create an identity that best describes you as a leader.
After defining your leadership identity, it’s time to craft your leadership brand statement.
4. Create an Effective Leadership Brand Statement
A leadership brand statement is a 1-2 sentence that summarizes your brand. It lets your followers know what you do and why your leadership is different, in a concise way.
Developing an effective leadership brand statement is crucial because it will serve as your catchphrase to hook your readers’ attention.
When crafting your statement, use the insights you have gathered from the steps above.
A solid branding statement must answer the following:
- Who you are as a leader
- What do you do
- How do you work
- What you can bring to the table
Here, let’s define your statement by following this simple formula:
“I want to _____ so that _____.”
Following George’s example, let’s use the formula to create his statement:
“I want to be known as a respectful mentor so that I can relate to and inspire my people to be more than they thought they could be.”
The above example conveys who the brand is (a respectful mentor) and what it does (teaching).
It also explains how the brand works (relate to and inspire students), and what it can bring to the table (be more than the students thought they could be).
As a general rule, make sure that your statement accurately sums up your brand. Write concisely, be authentic, and emphasize how your brand can benefit your audience.
Once you have come up with a statement, don’t forget to test it.
Ask your colleagues if the message got across. Then, gather some feedback to further improve it.
5. Live Your Personal Brand
Now, it’s time to embody the leadership brand you have created.
Your goal is to establish yourself as a trusted leader by living it. Your peers should be able to see you as you wish to be seen. But how?
The first step is to share your statement with your colleagues. This allows them to know what to expect from you.
Then, ensure that you can deliver what your brand promises.
If you say you are a mentor who wants to inspire people to be more than what they thought they could be, you have to act the part.
Focus on what makes you seen as a teacher.
Do you have enough activities at work that involve educating your colleagues about your subject matter? Are you consistent with your behavior toward your co-workers? Is your intention of teaching and helping people genuine?
Living your leadership brand consistently and authentically will establish familiarity and recognition from your peers.
But make sure that the message is getting across. Ask for occasional feedback from others and be ready to pivot.
Leadership brands should evolve according to the different needs of your career at different times.
6. Build Your Online Presence
You shouldn’t just live your leadership brand in the four corners of your office. You should also live it everywhere you go, especially online.
Social media platforms like LinkedIn are a great place to build your thought-leadership image.
Here, you’ll find an extension of your audience as well as like-minded professionals to engage and interact with.
Engaging with these people helps boost your reputation in your field.
Take time to set up your social media accounts to reflect your brand, and then populate them with thought-leadership content that will build your authority and win people’s trust.
When creating leadership content, the most important thing is to write for your audience.
While branding yourself as a leader involves emphasizing your value, remember that it is not overly self-promotional.
That means your content should inform, educate, and help instead of sell. Address your audience’s pain points and offer solutions to their problems, needs, and concerns.
Also, be genuine about wanting to help and the public will begin noticing your brand.
Below, we listed the most effective types of thought-leadership content to solidify your brand:
- Blog posts & articles
- eBooks & whitepapers
- Original research & insights
- Videos & infographics
- Media appearances & guest posts
- Virtual events & speaking engagements
- Digital hubs & training resources
Take the time to research fellow leaders in your field. Find what works for them that you can apply to your personal leadership brand.
Then, see how that type of content performs and adjust as needed.