What effect does your CEO’s reputation have on your brand’s value?

The role of the CEO has evolved as they become as famous as the brands they created. As a result, public scrutiny can be equal to that of a celebrity figure. Is your leadership team up to the task?

Your CEO’s reputation – and how it resonated with your brand – directly impact your business.

Why it matters?

As we transition to a new era of more responsible and purpose-driven business, brand managers need to look closely at how their CEO’s reputation is linked to and impacts the brand.

Musk, Jobs and Branson

The role of the CEO has evolved as they become as famous as the brands they created.

CEO reputation matters more to brands and the value they contribute to businesses

The most famous CEOs today are founders who have transformed shoestring operations into major multinationals which make more money than most countries’ GDP. 

Who is the CEO of Amazon? That’s a pretty easy answer.

What about the CEO of UPS? Not quite as easy, right?

Jeff Bezos has become a household name, bringing Amazon lots of free attention and helping to propel it into an e-commerce giant with an enthusiastic international following. UPS would have to spend a lot to deliver its message with the same pervasiveness and emotional connection as Amazon has. How much, one can only wonder.

My point is this: if your company’s CEO lacks a strong personal brand, it’s probably affecting your bottom line. Global executives estimate that 44% of a company’s market value is attributable to CEO reputation.

Consider this: a powerful executive brand is a terrific antidote to an oversaturated marketplace with limitless options. (It’s hard to imagine Tesla reaching the same level of prominence without Elon Musk at the helm.) You may have the right product and the right price point — and even the right team to sell it — but those are all irrelevant if people don’t know about your business.

Of course, there’s much more to it than that. Chief executives represent the company’s vision. The public may have a fascination with businesses and their success stories, but it’s the people we feel connections to, not corporate entities. Speaking engagements, thought leadership articles, and media placements are all effective ways to keep key executives top of mind with important stakeholders.


Whitney Wolfe-Herd – Bumble CEO

 “Like movie stars who serve as a signal about the expected quality of a forthcoming movie, CEOs serve as a signal to stakeholders about expected company performance.”

Marc Fetscherin in his book CEO Branding

Results of our poll

We asked LinkedIn and Twitter:

Your leadership team are the most high-profile in your business. Whose responsibility are their personal brands?
poll results personal brand

As one of the most influential voices of your brand, does a leadership ‘brand’ fall within your remit and if not, should it – if not you then who?

Key points

  • How CEOs behave will become increasingly linked to the brand value of the companies they command and therefore more important in the way brands drive business success.
  • There is far more to being a good CEO than just fame. Just as it is not enough for brands to be well known, CEOs themselves need to be reputable and liked. This year’s Brand Guardianship Index demonstrates that the most famous CEOs are not the most reputable, and the most reputable CEOs are not that famous.
  • Good CEOs are those who nurture relations with all stakeholders, and enhance the reputation of their
    brands as a result. They must balance the needs of commercial success, long-term brand building and
    personal reputation management.
  • In the future we expect that there will be more CEOs coming from a marketing background. It was 6% in 2019 and is 10% in 2021.

The big idea

Founders are integral to establishing a business and delivering on their vision. But after a while, if they cannot balance the need for financial return with other demands such as good treatment of employees and quite simply being popular, they have to leave.

The CEO reputation premium: gaining advantage in the engagement era

In an increasingly connected and transparent world, keeping a low profile is no longer an option for business leaders. CEOs have entered a golden age of opportunity in which to tell their company story and join the conversation. This new era is marked by the recognition that CEO engagement is particularly critical to corporate reputation, resulting in high demand for content to help grow the business. Today’s CEOs are expected to be seen and heard and to be on the scene internally, externally and virtually. The same goes for top executives in the organization.

Our research finds that 81% of global executives believe external CEO engagement is now a mandate for building company reputation. Executives understand the benefits that come along with a strong CEO reputation and believe that their own CEO’s reputation contributes to nearly half of both their company’s reputation (45%) and market value (44%). CEO reputation is at a premium today and will only increase in value; half of executives expect that CEO reputation will matter even more to corporate reputation in the next few years.

CEO reputation

Excerpts from Webershandwick.

So, my questions are…

  1. Does your CEO help or hinder your brand values and game plan?
  2. Do you have any control over their personal brand? If not, should you?  
  3. Should it stop at the CEO or does the wider leadership team’s brand need to be considered?

Maybe take 10 minutes and have a look at some of your key players’ LinkedIn activity, or recent news articles about them, and see what you think?

Don’t imagine it is just over exuberance that can cause issues either  – underactivity can be detrimental too, because in today’s social age people expect to hear from the person at the top. Culture and values come from on-high, and not only do prospects want to know but investors, partners and future employees all want to know by whom the tone gets set.

I ask again… As one of the most influential voices of your brand, does CEO reputation fall within your remit? Should it?

And my closing (thought-provoking) image:
Your CEO is the face and voice of your business…

Trump brand

If one of your challenges is branding and brand value, we can help.

We can offer a full brand review and uncover some truths behind your current standing or have a chat and discuss your specific needs.

Learn more about Personal Branding in our WTF is it blog!

Share it