5 steps to transforming your CEO into a brand asset

Last updated: 18th June 2024

In this blog, we delve into the intricacies of CEO communications and boosting their personal brands, starting with five fundamental rules that can lay the foundation for a successful CEO communication strategy.

With today’s growing focus on brand purpose, including reflecting customer values and setting sustainability targets, CEOs are expected to do more than simply maximise revenues. The modern CEO can represent the entire organisation in the eyes of the public – and therefore communication is essential for success.

In this blog, we delve into the intricacies of CEO communications and boosting their personal brands, starting with five fundamental rules that can lay the foundation for a successful CEO communication strategy:

Be authentic: Communicating with authenticity is key. CEO communications should resonate with the company’s values and mission, conveying a true sense of purpose. This reinforces the idea of a genuinely purpose-driven brand, rather than one that uses values as buzzwords – and helps to build customer and stakeholder trust.

Tell your story: Sharing the CEO’s journey, complete with their challenges and triumphs, humanises the brand, fostering a more powerful and real connection with the audience. 

Start with why: Embrace the Golden Circle Theory, which suggests effective messages should target the limbic brain – the area which controls emotions and behaviour. Highlighting shared values creates a lasting connection with customers, which can more strongly influence purchasing decisions. This means that when CEOs share why they do what they do, they can create a lasting connection based on shared values.

Get your timing right: Timely communication is crucial, especially during periods of uncertainty or during emergencies. A heartfelt message can strengthen connections, but timing really is everything. This goes back to the authenticity point above – coming out too late with a message of solidarity in the aftermath of an accident, for example, risks sounding out of touch. Not responding at all can communicate a lack of empathy for a company’s leader.

Test and learn: Effective communication is a skill that evolves. Collaborating with experienced PR professionals, for example, can refine a CEO’s communication strategies, ensuring impactful interviews, inspiring thought leadership and managing social media profiles. 

When following these basic guidelines, it should be remembered that the style and content of CEO comms will largely depend on the organisation.

Now we know some of the rules that can help shape a successful CEO communication strategy, it’s worth looking at the benefits of applying them.

Evolution of the CEO’s role

The CEO’s public image is vital, given its close connection to the company’s reputation. Managing the CEO’s public image should never be considered a vanity project. Traditionally, a CEO’s performance was measured by profits, but today, with a heightened focus on brand purpose, CEOs are expected to go beyond revenue maximisation.

Customers and stakeholders now view CEOs as the face of the company, expecting them to align their public persona with the organisation’s mission, whether that be their purpose or environmental goals. Consequently, many companies are hiring specialists like Head of CEO Communications or Head of CEO Branding to ensure effective communication internally and externally. The role of the CEO has become even more critical post-COVID-19, with businesses being “the only institutions” perceived as competent and ethical, according to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer1.

Navigating the risks in “taking a stand”

Businesses are now expected to lead conversations on pressing issues, such as climate change, with CEOs as the primary brand spokespeople. In fact, taking a position on topical issues is not just good for PR – it also influences profits. A survey from Weber Shandwick found that CEO activism influences purchase intent, with 40% of consumers saying they are more likely to buy from a company when they agree with the CEO’s position.2 And it’s not just consumers who expect CEOs to take a stand: investors might also factor a CEO’s response to global challenges into their investment decisions. 

Taking a stand on topical challenges offers the concrete chance of quickly becoming a thought leader in these subjects. However, it must be kept in mind that, especially in the current climate, media exposure comes with some risks, and there’s always a chance that public attention could backfire. 

These risks emphasise the need for alignment between the CEO’s image and the company’s values. But taking risks can also offer valuable insights into customer and public sentiments, contributing to a more informed communications strategy.

In this sense, taking a stance on topical issues, whether this leads to thought leadership or to honest and fresh feedback, is a win-win. 

Adopting a strategic social media presence

Timeliness is crucial in CEO communication – and whether than means an instant response or waiting for the right moment depends on the situation. There’s little value in offering your contribution to a conversation when it’s already fizzling out, although failing to offer a timely response in case of incidents, scandals or emergency situations can have devastating consequences for a company.

Social media provides a platform for CEOs to address a broad audience swiftly, and even to create viral content. Research suggests that a CEO with a strong digital presence positively impacts a company’s bottom line. The BRANDfog CEO, Social Media and Leadership survey revealed that 82% of respondents were more likely to trust a brand when the senior leadership and CEO are using social media3. However, the choice of platform and content must align with the brand, emphasising the importance of choosing battles wisely. So, should CEOs be active on social media? 

Social media also gives CEOs the power to control their personal brand and steer it in the right direction, but it’s important to use it correctly. The motto is “choose your battles wisely.” This means that CEOs should not necessarily comment on any topical issue or jump into any social media trend just for exposure’s sake. They should instead comment in a timely manner on issues that have a particular relevance to the business, or that closely align with its values and mission.

Getting CEO comms right

The five golden rules outlined above provide CEOs a good base to follow best practice. This blog has also shown why it’s worth doing and can contribute to an organisation’s success. For personalised advice tailored to your organisation, consider reaching out to The Marketing Pod’s communication experts. Get in touch with our team


1. https://www.edelman.com/trust/2023/trust-barometer 

2. https://webershandwick.com/uploads/news/files/the-dawn-of-ceo-activism.pdf  

3. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-communications-more-important-than-ever-ceos-what-oliver-aust/ 

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