People associate companies with their owners now more than ever. In the past, you might not have been able to tell who ran the world’s largest businesses, but now they are even more famous than a lot of celebrities.
The likes of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Elon Musk are all well-known figures in their own right, but people can’t think of them without thinking of their companies. Anything a person does that the consumer disagrees with may make them even think negatively about the company too. Cleopatra Veloutsou, Professor of Brand Management at the University of Glasgow, says, “In the same way that we have product brands, a service brand or a country brand, we have a human brand.”
This is why you as a business owner need to have a strategy to promote yourself. This may not be essential when you’re small, but you’ll be thankful you got into the habit as your company starts to grow.
Tackling the Media Landscape
We have more access to the media than ever before. The advent of the smartphone and the ubiquity of mobile data means that we have a constant feed of information wherever we go. We are never truly disconnected. Whereas once we may have seen public figures once weekly or even monthly on TV or in the papers, we now see them every day.
All of this means that we are exposed to company owners more than we ever have been. Whether that’s through their own social media presence on the likes of Twitter (Elon Musk for example has 40 million followers), or on secondary sources like news sites, we see the faces of these figures constantly.
That’s why as your company grows, you need to be careful about what you put out there online. Anything you post on social media could have real implications for the future of your company, especially if there is something negative about you online.
However, the reverse is also true. If you are a big company but there is nothing about your founder online, then it may make people think you aren’t a credible businessperson – or worse – that you are hiding something. This is why so many CEOs nowadays use firms that offer reputation management services. Services like this can help you better communicate your business’ successes online. If you build a successful company from the ground up, then the least you could do is tell people about it.
A new platform
Rather than seeing this as another element of risk for your company, you should see this as a new platform, like many do, to demonstrate your company and its achievements. When your CEO does something positive, it shines a positive light on the company too.
This is definitely the case when it comes to giving to charity. It would be cynical to think that the only reason Bill Gates does philanthropic work is to make Microsoft look good, especially as one of the founders of The Giving Pledge, but it is a happy by-product of being able to help people on a large scale. Likewise, if people feel they trust you or you come across well then this will only impact your company in a positive way.
You don’t have to always be speaking to the media in order to do this. You may be camera shy or not like the media attention, but you must ensure you are well represented online. This could be as simple as making sure all of your information is up to date, down to a media slot in a well-known publication.
Just as you need to communicate outside your company, you should also ensure that your internal communications is on point too. This will help employees feel appreciated by the company and have a more personal connection to their work with you as the face of the business. They might even tell their family and friends your company is a great place to work, which will increase consumer trust and may even attract some great talent to your team!
Like it or not, you and your company are interchangeable in the eyes of consumers. That’s why you need to get on the front foot and project a good image of yourself to the world. Even if you are small, you can start with things like community charities or local press. This is an excellent habit to get started, because it will be easy to continue as you grow. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – it might just give you a leg up over your competition.