Who am I?
William Arruda needs no introduction. He was named the ‘Personal Branding Guru’ by Entrepreneur magazine. He is a personal branding pioneer, global citizen, champion of career-minded professionals and author, but more importantly, he is a dynamic speaker who specialises in branding, career advancement, social media and employee motivation.
Arruda is also the founder of Reach, a global personal branding company.
With over 20 years’ experience in corporate branding and possessing a charismatic character imbued with wit, humour and an amazing level of energy, it’s no wonder that he is one of the first leaders who comes to mind when one thinks of branding.
According to Arruda, women today need to have their own personal brand as it provides them with stability, empowerment, value-creation, and recognition critical to success in an increasingly dynamic marketplace.
Recently, I had the opportunity to get him to share his insights on the importance of branding for women.
Here is what he had to say:
Q: What does the term personal branding mean to you?
Personal branding is the permission to be yourself – your best self – in support of your career, your team and your company. It is all about defining what makes you different, relevant and compelling, and using that to make an impact and achieve your goals.
Successful personal branding is based on authenticity. It is not spin or packaging and it is not about creating an image.
Q: Women in the working world are rising and some are even holding leadership roles, on par with men. How important is personal branding for women?
It’s even more important for women. Although they’re making great strides, women lag behind their male counterparts in pay and opportunities for senior leadership and board positions.
Women often feel they must emulate their male senior colleagues to get ahead, when in fact they must get clear about their own unique promise of value and use that to achieve their goals. Also, women are often less likely to tout their accomplishments. Personal branding helps them find a way to let others know about their value and accomplishments without bragging.
Q: How are social media platforms supporting the women?
Social media levels the playing field for women. It provides access to senior leaders that may not be accessible in the real-world. Google searches (and keyword searches in LinkedIn) are gender neutral – providing more opportunities for women to be visible. And for some women, it is easier to demonstrate their expertise and thought-leadership via social media than to brag about their accomplishments. I think social media will do more to help propel women to top positions than any other tool, programme or initiative.
Q: Can a personal brand and a corporate brand come together as a winning team?
Absolutely. Many people think personal branding competes with corporate branding. It’s not true. I call it applied personal branding. Most of my work with major companies revolves around helping their talent uncover their personal branding and then learning how to apply their unique brand traits to the mission of the company
Q: What are the risks faced by an organisation if there is no proper balance between these two?
Organisations need to make sure employees understand the corporate brand and how to deliver on the brand’s promise. Many companies only engage the marketing staff in the mission of building the brand. If employees are not clear about the brand, their efforts may not be properly aligned.
That leads to a less clear and compelling brand in the marketplace. It also leads to attrition and lower engagement.
Training is the key. Development programmes that focus on helping employees uncover their brands and understand how to use them to deliver on the corporate brand promise will have a significant impact on brand value and retention.
Q: What other challenges are faced by organisations, in connection with branding?
Although branding is based in authenticity, brands evolve over time. They aren’t static. The rate of change is increasing – so brands need to make sure they evolve to remain relevant. Employees need to be involved in brand evolution.
Read more: "Impressive" Won't Win The Market. Try "Authentic"
Q: Organisations today are also placing emphasis on employer branding. In your opinion, why is this gaining importance?
There is a war for the best people and research tells us that the brand of a company is just as important as the paycheck to the millennial generation.
Top talent have a choice and where there is choice, there is the need for branding. Your brand promise must be clear to your ideal staff. Strong brands attract talent.
Q: What are the key elements needed to ensure a successful employer branding strategy?
I believe the distinction between corporate brand and employer brand are fading. Thanks to increased transparency, the inner workings of a company and external brand are more closely aligned.
There was a time when the external brand was an image managed by the marketing department and was not necessarily connected to the actual operations of the company.
Today, the internal workings of a company and its external image are more congruent. Social media has been the catalyst for this transformation. That means social media is one of the most powerful tools for expressing the brand and engaging in conversations with prospective employees.
Q: The impact of social media can make or break an organisation. What are the key elements that need to be addressed to ensure a positive outcome from engaging with social media platforms?
There are a few. First, social media is not going away and it is a powerful tool for engaging all stakeholders. Companies must make it a strategic imperative. The companies that don’t build a comprehensive social media programme will lose out.
Second, the most effective programmes engage the entire company in social media activities – sharing corporate content, commenting and engaging with customers, business partners and shareholders.
Lastly, trust is key to effective social media programmes. There are some companies that block access to social media platforms at work or provide stringent rules that dissuade employees from participating. Companies must create and distribute guidelines, not rules if they want active participation from their people. And they must encourage their senior executives to become social savvy leaders. It starts at the top.
First appeared on Leaderonomics.com. Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 13 June 2015