Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page has more than 80 million followers. If you follow him you'll be the latest to hear about his recent travels, diseases he's trying to cure and his political opinions such as freedom of speech.
Why do this?
Today, being a CEO means much more than having a primo office on the top floor a skyrise building. It means building a brand that people believe in. That they really care about.
And it needs to start from the top.
We've looked at how the world's top CEO's construct online brands that embody their business philosophies. Take note - these are all strategies that can be easily applied to any emerging brand leader.
Richard Branson: The Paragon of Knowledge
When a lot of us think of CEOs we think of Virgin entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. Branson's personal branding is one of an intelligent, successful, lucrative, and upbeat entrepreneur. He upholds these traits through a range of motivating, positive, and wise pieces of content and design. How does he do it?
This motivating and professional branding Branson upholds is reinforced through his use of design and visuals. Since Branson's branding is so heavily focused on his writings, words, and quotes, his visual content reflects this by playing predominantly on typography.
One of his most commonly used graphics is the quote card. Clean, minimal type, heavy use of typography, and a professional aesthetic keep Branson's visual content true to his personal brand whilst also strongly in line with Virgin's branding without directly mimicking it.
Described on his own Facebook page as "(a) tie-loathing adventurer, philanthropist & troublemaker, who believes in turning ideas into reality," Branson upholds his personal branding both visually and strategically throughout his social media.
Branson's main form of content posted to social media is URLs to extended works such as blogs, articles, interviews, etc. He often accompanies these URLs with an inspiring behind the scenes personal photograph or a snapshot of him directly involved in the topic at hand.
This technique not only helps grab users attention towards his longer-form content, but it displays him as active, hands-on, and a do-er, and first hand proof that his advice and guides work.
Bill Gates: The Philanthropist
Co-owner of the world's largest private foundation with an endowment in excess of $39.6 billion USD, the extreme extent of Bill Gates' philanthropy is no hidden secret, but rather a trait that colors his personal branding in a very distinct way.
Gates' commitment to philanthropy is undeniably his brand's defining trait and one that is reflected in his content, visuals, and social media strategy.
Despite being the former CEO of tech giant Microsoft where clean, sleek designs are king, Gates' business card began with a warm, psychedelic 70s design.
Gates' modern day visual content reflects this personal branding of philanthropy and being 'the people's person' by always depicting people's faces (though not always his own). His focus on imagery of people connects him with this charitable branding in a distinct way.
Notice as well how Gates' visual content often uses handcrafted typefaces as well as colorful, organic illustrations.
Gates' use of color reflects Microsoft's branding, however the use of the doodles and handcrafted imagery is unique to Gates. Once again: CEO branding should ideally reflect and complement the CEO's company, not mimic it, and Gates nails this.
Gates' approach to social media is very click-through content and philanthropy driven. Gates often posts links to click-through content along with a small personal anecdote and a colorful, custom graphic relating to the content.
Overall, Gates' approach to his visual and strategic personal branding is one that focuses on people. By using handcrafted graphics/type/illustrations, a larger color palette, and a heavy focus on content about people, Gates' personal branding of 'The Philanthropist' is upheld to a T.
Mark Zuckerberg: The Colloquial CEO
Mark Zuckerberg has become a household name thanks to the immeasurable success of Facebook, but even amongst this fame, he has managed to foster a personal brand that is still heavily colloquial, casual, and cool.
Zuck's colloquial approach to his branding is probably best exemplified in his business card design. The famous (and in some cases infamous) 'I'm CEO, Bitch', business card.
Designer of the card, Bryan Veloso explains the tag line's history as having roots in colloquial banter with Mark "It was during (a meeting with Zuckerberg) where I remember him first uttering the phrase, "I'm CEO, bitch"... Because of the relationship that Zuck and I had at the time, I felt comfortable having fun with his tagline. So, quite simply, it was a phrase I typed in that stuck."
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Similarly, Zuckerberg's personal stationery has a distinctly casual and approachable design to it. With a sharp, modern, but very character driven seal design and personable construction of the stationary, even Zuckerberg's letterheads help drive home this personal brand of a causal, cool CEO.
The casual and fun approach Zuckerberg takes with his employees and company is reflected squarely in his content's designs.
Mark Zuckerberg quite naturally has a prominent social media presence on Facebook, favoring the personal photograph approach to his content. Zuck's overall visual approach to content is incredibly simple and casual, with small glimpses into his professional and personal life. Check out his Instagram feed for example:
Another thing worth noting is that in each of his images, Zuckerberg always appears in a "uniform" of a simple grey shirt, which has become a signature look of his. According to him, it's because clothing is a "silly decision he doesn't want to spend too long making" each morning -- a nod to his busyness as a CEO.
Donald Trump: The Wealthy Businessman
Undeniably - Donald Trump has a distinct and obvious personal brand. It announces itself. His powerful, commanding, high-class and luxurious personal brand is reflected both in the way Trump conducts himself in public as well as in the way he employs design and social media tactics.
The designs of each of Trump's assets and products embody this branding of "wealth and class". Over the course of his assets, Trump uses strong yet elegant serif fonts, consistent designs from platform to platform, loose kerning of type to create a luxurious effect, and very intricate, ornate brand marks.
Trump's designs scream 'prestigious,' 'upper class' and 'glamorous', a direct reflection of the personal brand that he upholds within himself.
Similarly, Trump's business card design encapsulates this upper class and prestige. Executed in ornate gold, strong serif fonts, and topped off with a mirrored translation on the back, suggesting the CEO does quite a lot of business in Asia.
This simple, yet luxurious design perfectly reinforces Trump's brand as a wealthy businessman who dabbles frequently in international business.
Trump's approach to social media is one that again, reflects his own self constructed branding of a successful businessman. And his weapon of choice? Quote cards.
Punchy, motivating quotes from Trump himself executed in bold, and/or strong serif typefaces and dark color palettes make for powerful and professional pieces of content.
Often accompanied with a hashtag, occasionally with a very animated photograph of Trump, these quote cards help to reflect the branding of this CEO as an experienced and prestigious mogul.
Arianna Huffington: The Compassionate CEO
Huffington's approach to her personal brand can best be summed up by her own description of herself as seen on her Facebook page: "Mother, sister, flat shoe advocate, sleep evangelist, HuffPost founder, and founder and CEO of Thrive Global". Huffington's approach to her brand sets her compassion and personality one small but distinct ahead of her business-minded achievements and ambitions.
Huffington's brand of compassion is exemplified perfectly in her choice of designs. Opting for minimal, clean, compositions, cooler and calming color palettes and simple, sophisticated type.
Check out the design for Huffington's Facebook cover photo as an example:
The use of soft colors, clean simple type, and an approachable image help visually brand Huffington as an empathetic, yet professional-minded businesswoman.
These clean, softly colored graphics translate through to Huffington's social media content - primarily her abundant use of quote cards. Check out the beautiful, clean, and simple design of this Instagram post from Huffington:
As mentioned, Huffington is quite the fan of quote card graphics. By using quotes from others Huffington finds inspiring, she establishes herself as a well-read, open-minded and motivating source.
Aside from custom quote card images, of which she is a great fan, Huffington also frequently posts small glimpses into her personal life to show how her experiences inform her business practices.
Check out this Facebook status update and coinciding photograph. A touching anecdote from a mother, topped off with an intimate black and white portrait of the two helps to humanize and empathize Huffington as a mother, businesswoman, and empathetic CEO, all of which are factors that reinforce her personal brand.
Overall, Arianna Huffington's approach to personally branding herself is unique in its compassionate construction, and manages to not mimic that of her company, but rather complement and reflect it.
What are your thoughts on CEO personal branding?
Personal branding is one small but necessary facet when it comes to constructing a solid and successful company brand. Whilst a CEO is not the poster child for the company, they are a linchpin and direct representative of the product, thus their personal construction should be created strategically and carefully.
What do you think? Do you agree that these five CEOs have put their best foot forward and represented themselves in successful, unique ways that help to represent their larger brands?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.