Personal branding lessons from four C-level executives

Bonin B

Nearly every individual has their own personal brand. We looked at the Twitter profiles of four senior marketing executives at different companies, to see what their brand persona was like and what we can learn from them. 

In today’s digital world, having an online personal brand has practically become a prerequisite for being relevant and advancing into a position of  leadership.

I don’t know if there’s a magical formula for building a great personal brand, or whether it’s just a natural talent. Either way, there’s no denying that having one certainly seems to give an individual more street cred.

For instance, take T-Mobile chief executive John Legere’s most recent Twitter debacle; yes, his curse-filled hate rant at the Electronic Frontier Foundation certainly sparked a lot of backlash, but who didn’t secretly respect the dude a bit more for just being real? 

Personal branding allows you to stand out from the crowd and position yourself in a unique manner using your own tone of voice. It enables you to go beyond the boring to truly impress.

In order to see what works and what doesn’t, I took a look at four senior execs’ profiles to see what they’re doing in order to inspire.

Here’s what I learnt:

MikeMike Sievert (19,000+ Twitter followers)

Speaking of T-Mobile, Sievert is the company’s former chief marketing officer (CMO) and is now chief operating officer. Working for a brand who convinced social media queen Kim Kardashian to mock herself in its 2015 Super Bowl commercial, Sievert takes Twitter seriously.

Different from most CMOs that remain silent on Twitter most of the time, Sievert is present in everything T-mobile does, tweeting an average of four times a day.

What we love about Sievert the most is the fact that he’s personable. While he may be a busy C-level exec at a huge brand, he still takes the time out to personally respond to tweets from his followers. Like the saying goes, “be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them again on your way back down”. We have no doubt at all, that Sievert will be loved at all levels.

But Sievert is not a rigid suit guy who only shares T-Mobile news. He stays current on Twitter by addressing a wide range of topics, including football, music, politics, mathematics, and…Chipotle.

What can we learn from him? Be personable and never too big for your boots. The most successful people are those that value the people around them and understand that a million minds are often better than one. 

Oh and be fun. If you have lots of hobbies outside of your profession, don’t hide them. Who doesn’t like a versatile person?

DavidDavid Berkowitz (29,000+ Twitter followers)

If you have been in digital marketing for a while in the U.S., you’ll know who David Berkowitz is. Both an avid writer and speaker, you can find him at almost every industry conference, big or small.

Content marketing has definitely helped Berkowitz build his own personal brand through both published articles and social media channels. He started out as a writer and is now the CMO for agency MRY. 

Berkowitz keeps his Twitter following by tweeting at least one post a day. Most tweets relate to digital marketing news and his own published posts.

The lesson? Write as much as you can so you have lots to share. And if you don’t have lots to share, well just share anyway. 

BoninBonin Bough (30,000+ Twitter followers)

As chief media and ecommerce officer at Mondelēz International, Bough is one of the most humorous digital marketing enthusiasts that we know, as evidenced in his personal tagline on Twitter (see left).

He constantly speaks at high-profile industry events like South by Southwest, ANA’s Digital Conference, and our very own ClickZ Live.

Bough has created his own blog and appeared on the cover of industry magazines. He is also implementing a tactical strategy on Twitter where he posts three or four tweets a day, sharing industry news or industry conferences he is attending.

Interestingly enough, sometimes he assigns a theme to a specific day, such as #MotivationMonday, #TeamworkTuesday, and #TalentThursday to share his business philosophies.

Bough raises the bar really high; not everyone is lucky enough to have an outgoing personality that oozes through their words as he does.

But I think the biggest lesson to learn from him is that when it comes to your social channels, it is okay to loosen up. Don’t take life too seriously and just be yourself. 

DamienDamien Cummings (11,000+ Twitter followers)

Cummings is global head of digital marketing at Standard Chartered Bank. Perhaps due to the nature of his company, Cummings’ social aura seems a little more serious than his marketing peers like Berkowitz and Bough. He is very opinionated in the topic of digital marketing, which is exemplified through his posts on LinkedIn and Twitter.

As a reporter, I truly enjoy reading Cummings’ posts to get a greater understanding of how digital business works from a brand marketer’s perspective. The insightful thoughts set Cummings apart from other executives.

The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to state your opinion.

Some will agree, others won’t, but everyone will know your thoughts on a matter. As they say, honesty is the best policy.

With that said, Cummings could probably could take a tip from Sievert and Bough and lighten up a bit. While his Twitter tagline gives glimpse to the fact that he might have a more light-hearted side, the serious nature of his posts say otherwise.

C’mon Cummings – a little less business and a few more guitar poses would be much appreciated.

Your personal brand?

Obviously, content creation is the backbone for any personal brand. It’s crucial to post this to your social networks on a daily basis.

Most importantly, stay true to yourself. Whether you’re as humorous as Sievert, as vocal as Berkowitz, as enthusiastic as Bough, as opinionated as Cummings, a mix of all four, or none of either – don’t be afraid to be who you are. 

Just remember, you are your own brand. If you’re not going to shout about it as loud as you can from the rooftops (or on social media), nobody else is going to do it for you.

So what are you waiting for? Shout!

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