thought leadership

How to Develop a Strong Leadership Branding in 6 Steps

Leadership branding

thought leadership

Leaders today are not only expected to excel at their crafts. They are also expected to be clear on their identity and communicate their value as leaders.

This is where leadership brands come in.

Leadership brands are crucial to make maximum impact for the work you’ve been doing. They are an essential tool to create opportunities at work that could lead you to a fulfilling job.

Having a strong personal brand is a must if you want to stand out as a leader.

In this guide, let’s dig deeper into the process of branding yourself as a leader.

Find out what it is all about, what can you get from developing your brand, and how you should approach it to work to your advantage.

What is Leadership Branding?

Leadership branding is the conscious effort of shaping your colleague’s perception of you as a leader.

In this strategy, you work on establishing a strong personal leadership brand that works to:

  1. Communicate your value in an organization
  2. Convey your identity as a leader

The goal of a leadership brand is to demonstrate your identity as a leader.

Here, you determine who you currently are from the point of view of your co-workers.

Then, you decide what you want to be known for in your organization.

To do this, you identify your personal strengths, qualities, skills, and behaviors that you want people to associate with you.

By showing your identity, you are letting people know the value you bring to the organization.

Why a Personal Leadership Brand is Important?

Today, everyone has a personal brand.

However, not everyone actively manages their brands. This results in a missed opportunity to maximize the impact their leadership brands could make.

By managing your brand, you’re controlling your own narrative. This is crucial to prevent people from associating you with the wrong image.

When you do, you get your brand to work to your advantage in the long term.

When you consciously shape your leadership brand, you can:


1. Differentiate yourself from other leaders

In a group of leaders, how do you want to be seen by your peers? A decisive leader? A problem-solver? Or maybe, a mentor?

If you want to be valued for a certain quality or skill, a clear leadership identity is key.

By branding yourself, your peers will know what to expect from you as opposed to other leaders in the company.

They’ll know which situations they can depend on you, and which opportunities best fit you, which brings us to our next point.


2. Put yourself in the right role

To land a job or project you want, you need to exhibit the traits, skills, and experiences that could get you in that position.

Likewise, people in your organization must see that you qualify for the said role.

A clear leadership brand can help you do that. With an effective brand, you can make your peers aware of what you do best.

As you communicate the value you can contribute to the organization, you’ll have a higher chance of getting pulled into roles where your abilities can shine.


3. Grow your impact

Don’t let your hard work be unseen or unheard by your peers. Actively promote yourself to open up better opportunities at work.

A strong leadership brand can help demonstrate the work you get done so that others will remember them, talk about them, and recognize them.

But when doing so, remember to stay true to yourself and your values. People will see through your acts if you’re trying to be someone else.

By keeping a brand that centers around genuine intentions to communicate your value, your hard work will eventually be noticed.


4. Attract more customers or investors

Having a leadership brand doesn’t only benefit the leaders in a company.

The trust you gain from people can also spill to the organization you belong to. In fact, 82% of buyers are more likely to buy from companies whose leadership team and CEO engage on social media.

As you establish yourself as a credible leader both in the workplace and online, you are also attracting more clients for the company.


5. Find Career Fulfillment

As you establish your identity and communicate your value, people will start respecting you and appreciating your contribution to the organization.

They will see you as the right fit to a higher-level position or projects that you may want to take on.

This leads you to finding fulfillment at work.

Getting Started: Essential Questions to Define Your Leadership Brand

Before you proceed with the steps, you have to be clear about what your brand is going to be.

To do this, we have prepared some essential questions to help define your leadership brand.


What traits do people respect around your workplace?

Identify the “hero stories” in your workplace.

These are the qualities of a good leader most admired by your peers.

Is integrity a valuable trait in your workplace? Or is it all about delivering results?

Maybe, your employees appreciate supportive leaders?

Ask around and observe which traits are highly-lauded by your colleagues.


What are you expert in?

Everyone has a core skill that can be an edge to other leaders.

For instance, you may be a sales expert who aspires to lead your organization.

There are many avenues to channel this strength.

You can be an expert who delights with deliverables or an influencer who inspires people with your insights.

Where you channel this strength can make all the difference. Identify what you are expert in and what your teammates think your core strength is.


What do your colleagues say about you?

To develop your leadership brand, you must learn how people currently perceive you as a leader.

Find out what your manager and teammates think your strengths and weaknesses are.

Ask for feedback on areas you excel at and the fields you need to work on. Also, ask how you behave based on your interactions with your colleagues.

Determine if you are being consistent with your behaviors as you interact with others.

How to Brand Yourself as a Leader

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.

How to Know if Your Leadership Brand is Working

The steps above are only half the battle. After creating your leadership brand, you need to ensure that your efforts are paying off.

If done properly, you may start seeing signs that your brand is going the right way:

  • Ideal customers opting to avail your company’s products or services
  • More investors willing to invest in your organization
  • You are offered a position that aligns with your strengths, qualities, and skills
  • You are invited to projects that you enjoy
  • Your teammates are commending you on aspects of your work that align with your brand
  • Your boss or other leaders in your field recognizing your brand

But don’t get fixated on having immediate results. Remember that personal branding is a gradual process. 

As you build your image, what you need is to be genuine about your efforts to grow as a leader. Eventually, people will take notice.

Follow the steps above, observe your progress, and be ready to adjust if you want to see the long-term effects of your branding efforts.

Create Your Leadership Brand Now!

A strong leadership brand is a key to opening new opportunities you want at work.

With this branding guide, we hope you can develop a personal leadership brand that can help achieve your career goals.

But if you need further guidance on creating your leadership brand, feel free to reach out to a personal branding consultant.

A personal branding consultant helps you save time, money, and energy defining your identity and communicating your value in the workplace and online.

If you need help with your leadership brand contact us.

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9 Examples of Impressive Thought Leadership Content

Thought Leadership Content

thought leadership

Do you want to be a thought leader in your field?

A thought leader is someone who offers guidance and insight to those around them. They help others with their knowledge and experience in a particular topic.

To cement your reputation as a thought leader in your industry, you need to have strategic thought-leadership content. But what exactly is thought-leadership content? How do you create it?

In this post, discover the essential things you need to know about thought-leadership content. Also, learn from the examples of established thought-leaders to inspire and guide you in crafting high-quality content for thought-leadership marketing.

What is Thought Leadership Content

Thought leadership content presents your brand as a leading, authoritative voice in your industry.

It aims to inform, educate, provide insights and help answer the biggest questions in your audience’s minds.

This type of content is based on unique perspectives, experiences, and resources that inform the philosophy of your brand and your product.

You share this content to build credibility, trust, and ultimately, loyalty.

Remember, thought leadership content is:

  • Informative, educational, and helpful, not self-promotional
  • Answers the problems of your audience, not a marketing piece about a product or service
  • Positions you as the go-to expert in your industry, not just a mere brand trying to make sales

While thought leadership content is used as a content marketing tool, remember that it takes a customer-first approach. It is not entirely about what you know.

Rather, it is what your audience wants and needs to know from you.

Remember what it is and what it is not to effectively position yourself as a leader in your field.

Types of Thought Leadership Content

Thought leadership content comes in different formats, such as:


Blog Posts & Articles

Writing blog posts and articles is one of the most common and effective ways to demonstrate expertise in your niche.

It requires you to consistently publish posts about topics that resonate with your market.

By publishing new content in your blog, you are showing how well-versed you are in your field.

This consistency eventually builds a following to your blog which helps boost your credibility.


eBooks & White Papers

Look at some thought leaders in your industry. Chances are, they have authored at least one book or white paper about their subject matter.

Writing eBooks and white papers may require time for in-depth research, but it isn’t as demanding as maintaining a blog schedule.

The heavier graphics and thorough content also provide real value to your audience, which in turn, position you as an authority in your field.


Original Research & Insights

Conducting your own surveys, research, and data gathering instead of relying on existing reports can make you stand out from the crowd.

As a thought leader, your followers expect you to provide something new to the field.

Presenting original research and insights about your industry satisfies this need, which in turn, establishes thought leadership.


Videos & Infographics

We live in a visual world, that’s why videos and infographics make for great thought leadership content.

Both types are easy to digest and engaging to users. This is especially true for videos, which is a consumer’s favorite type of content to see from brands on social media.

That said, consider creating explainer videos and interactive infographics to inform and engage your audience.


Media Appearances & Guest Posts

Your brand recognition grows the more you appear in media interviews, articles, features, and industry-related websites and blogs.

The more people recognize your brand, the more you’ll be perceived as a thought leader.

So, it is also important to work on content outside your current platforms.

Build relationships with the press, contribute guest articles, and get your name out there.


Virtual Events & Speaking Engagements

Just like media appearances, getting active in virtual events can give your reputation a significant boost.

Aim to participate in conferences, trades, and exhibits not only as an attendee but as a speaker when possible.

Speaking engagements are particularly crucial in building your resume as a thought leader.

If you can, hold your own webinars and podcasts to build yourself. In the new normal, it’s still a must to make human connections with the people in your field.


Digital Hubs & Training Resources

As a thought leader, your primary goal is to teach your followers. Thus, creating a learning hub for your audience is crucial to your success.

Offer training resources, programs, courses, and events that will help your users solve their problems, alongside the other forms of content mentioned above.

Examples of Thought Leadership Content

Based on the types above, let’s look at some brands that are doing great with their thought leadership content. Take inspiration from these brands so you can create effective content for thought leadership. 


Grow by Acorns and CNBC

Grow by Acorns and CNBC Thought Leadership Content

Acorns may be a company offering financial investments, but they know not to oversell their services with their content. Instead, they make good use of their blog to tackle the more interesting side of financing.

To appeal to their audience, they publish content revolving around saving, spending, and earning that people could highly relate to. They also partnered with news provider CNBC and built a team of financial experts to boost the blog’s credibility.

This sincerity to help people make the most out of their money earns them a spot on this list.

Takeaway: Be helpful.



Degreed Thought Leadership Content

When it comes to building authority, publishing whitepapers is a surefire way to get the job done. Education technology company Degreed recognizes this, which is made evident by their thorough and well-designed whitepapers.

It is a smart move for Degreed to leverage this type of content as whitepapers are often perceived to be highly-authoritative. This especially works when your target markets are entrepreneurs and businesses, who usually look for real value from brands.

Takeaway: Provide real value to your audience.


Burning Glass Technologies

Burning Glass Technologies Thought Leadership Content Example

Data is a powerful tool to establish thought leadership. And for for-profit enterprise Burning Glass Technologies, it is one key to stand out from the competition.

The said brand uses data to become a formidable name in its field. Together with industry authorities like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Burning Glass Technologies offers a wealth of original content from raw info about labor and the job market.

As the brand brings something new to the table, it gets a huge chunk of attention from the community.

Takeaway: Add to the conversation.


MarieTV by Marie Forleo

MarieTV Thought Leadership Content Example

When it comes to creating video content for thought leadership, Marie Forleo does it spot-on.

It is truly impressive how she handles her web series, MarieTV. Not only does she create videos that help people create a business and life they love. She also goes the extra mile addressing her audience’s problems.

One notable thing about her content is her effort to answer questions from her viewers every week. She does this with much gusto, not only answering on her YouTube channel but also on her website. This genuine care to help her audience has earned her a loyal following.

Takeaway: Engage with your community.


Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey Thought Leadership Content Example

From one host to another, Oprah Winfrey’s brand is built around authenticity.

People follow Oprah’s content because it’s genuine. She opens her stories to the world to empower other people. She isn’t afraid to share her experiences, joyful or sad, to encourage her audience to embrace their own stories. And this genuineness translates well to her content, whatever the format.

Throughout the years, she remained herself and taught us that thought leadership isn’t just about your knowledge. It is also about being who you are, not just as a brand, but as a person. And that this genuineness should reflect on your content.

Takeaway: Be authentic.


Build a Better Agency Podcast by Drew McLellan

Agency Management Institute thought leadership content

In industries like digital marketing, agency leaders are often strapped for time. If you’re targeting these people, how do you get them to consume your content?

Drew McLellan knew exactly what agency heads need, that’s why he created the Build a Better Agency Podcast. His 30-45 minutes long podcasts are just what busy leaders need to get educated on how they can improve their agencies.

By thinking of his audience’s needs, he was able to appeal to them and get a fair share of their time.

Takeaway: Think of your audience’s needs.


First Round Review

First Round Review Thought Leadership Content Example

While getting interviewed sure can help with your thought leadership journey, interviewing people can also boost your reputation. The First Round Review blog is proof of that.

The said venture capital firm spends its time interviewing entrepreneurs. The people behind the blog seek thought leadership advice from real companies to feature on the website.

Through this approach, the First Round Review blog has managed to get media attention as well as a positive response from the community.

Takeaway: Reach out to other experts in your field.


Business Class by American Express

American Express Thought Leadership Content

Here’s another brand that doesn’t just rely on its own expertise.

Business Class by American Express is a blog for small businesses. Previously called Open Forum, this blog lets their business customers post content on their website.

Along with their team of writers, content from business owners make up American Express’s blog. This cumulative effort to provide a thought leadership hub gives Business Class a spot on our list.

Takeaway: Build a community.


HubSpot Academy

Hubspot Accademy Thought Leadership Content

In the marketing world, HubSpot is a respected brand well-known for its top-notch automation tools. However, people’s recognition of this brand doesn’t just end with their software products.

This company brand is also admired for its free online knowledge hub, HubSpot Academy. Here, you will find training resources for professionals and entrepreneurs aiming to grow their careers and businesses. They offer certification programs and practical courses to help their customer base and visitors.

Takeaway: Educate your audience. Successful thought leaders aren’t only experts, but they are also excellent teachers.

Developing your Thought Leadership Marketing Strategy

What can we learn from the examples above?

When developing your thought leadership content, you have to take into account the following elements to pull off an effective content marketing strategy.

  • Be helpful. People turn to brands that help make their daily lives easier.
  • Provide real value to your audience. Your effort to create content that offers real value pays off with a loyal following.
  • Add to the conversation. Thought leaders are expected to lead and not just follow. You do this by offering something new to the field.
  • Engage with your community. Don’t just post content and leave it there. Engage with people before, during, and after publishing your content.
  • Be authentic. People can see through pretensions. Always be genuine when informing, educating, and entertaining your audience.
  • Think about your audience’s needs and problems. When creating content, think about how you can solve your audience’s problems.
  • Reach out to other experts in your field. Sharing knowledge with fellow thought leaders does not only help your community. It also puts a spotlight on your brand.
  • Build a community. Involve your audience in your content creation process.

  • Educate your audience. Real thought leaders are excellent teachers. People will trust you if you can teach them what they need.

Final Words

Content is an essential tool to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. As such, you should understand what exactly is thought leadership content to know how you can create it.

Remember: There is no such thing as the “best” content. What works for one brand may not work for another. Thought leadership content comes in many formats, and it is up to you to discover which will work best for your message.

However, there are definite elements that you need to consider when creating content. The examples of thought leadership content above should guide and inspire you as you develop your own content marketing strategy.

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