How Personal Brands of Board Directors Benefit Companies

Published on February 26, 2024

A corporate brand is only part of what attracts customers, talent, investors and other stakeholders to a company. Another major factor is its people. Therefore, the personal brands of employees, executives and directors really matter. As a director, you’re an ambassador for the company you serve, so your personal brand impacts stakeholder perceptions. It also influences valuable partnerships and customer buying decisions.

Benefits of a Strong Personal Brand

Here’s a look at how a strong personal brand benefits the board and company you serve as a director.

Builds trust and inspires confidence. 

As a director, you’re entrusted with making critical decisions that shape the future of the company. Companies seek directors whose character and values align with their brand, so make sure you hold up your end of the bargain.

A personal brand built on integrity, transparency and strong executive presence enhances your credibility and trustworthiness in the boardroom and as a representative of the company. It positions you to build stronger relationships with investors, employees and the broader community. Fellow directors will have greater respect and confidence in your abilities to make sound judgments and act in the best interests of the company. While this is crucial for every director, it’s even more important for those who are newly appointed. A strong personal brand enables new directors to hit the ground running and contribute more effectively to board discussions.

Improves interpersonal dynamics. 

For all directors, good communication habits are essential to a strong personal brand. What you say matters — and how you say it can matter even more. As psychologist Albert Mehrabian concluded in his seminal study decades ago, 55% of communication is body language and 38% is tone of voice. Keep this in mind as you contribute to board discussions.

For example, those who interrupt colleagues and only make eye contact with the board chair do little to build consensus. Others will feel dismissed by their behavior. Those who listen actively and address the group through open body language are far more effective at driving collaboration inside the boardroom, during committee meetings and beyond.

Enhances credibility.

A current and consistent online presence improves your credibility, yet it’s frequently overlooked by directors. Busy executives often forget to update their LinkedIn profiles and corporate bios after being appointed as directors or committee chairs. It’s also quite common for directors to skip top-line details that show the expertise they bring to the boardroom.

Does this matter? Yes, it turns out. Impressions through an outdated LinkedIn profile or bare-bones bio on the company website do make a difference, according to research. The Rain Group states that 82% of buyers will look up providers on LinkedIn before deciding to engage (to take a meeting, for example).  Pay attention to your public persona because prospective customers, partners and investors don’t just review the executive team, they look at employees and directors too. And their perceptions of you can impact business decisions.

What does it say about a company if only half of its directors mention their affiliation with it on LinkedIn? Each director should be an effective brand ambassador. What you communicate about your relevant expertise can enhance the marketability of the company for growth opportunities as well. For example, the five-person board of a travel company looks stronger to investors when one of the directors, a CFO of a hospitality company, conveys the strategic impact and major growth she’s driven at her current and prior companies. And since the hospitality company is looking to grow in part through acquisition, the board looks more compelling when she also includes her deep M&A experience.

Influences talent acquisition and public impressions. 

Your brand as a director can also influence talent acquisition and recruitment of new board members. People are drawn to companies with a strong board, executive team and vision for the future. They care about company culture. They also care about who they’ll work with. The LinkedIn profiles and bios of individual directors are a highly visible resource for candidates to get an initial sense of this. High-caliber candidates should be excited about being part of a company when they read about the board and executive team, not turned off.

Your online persona is not the only place that influences impressions. How you come across in-person is important too and should reflect what’s online (and vice versa). Consistency speaks to authenticity. If you seem like two different people online and in person, this can cast doubt on your credibility and, by extension, that of the company you represent. For instance, a director helping to build critical strategic partnerships looking sharp and attentive online but giving an entirely different impression in person by being inappropriately casual and disengaged can impact relationships the company is trying to build.

Displays responsibility. 

Social media activity is another part of your brand as a director that has ramifications. When holding a publicly visible role, your social media behavior is not just a matter of personal expression. People perceive you as an extension of the company on whose board you serve. An Instagram picture, post on X or LinkedIn comment that’s unprofessional, inflammatory or contrary to company values can be quite damaging.

How often have you read headlines calling for company executives and directors to step down due to poor commentary? One small action on any social platform can go viral and harm the corporate reputation. It can even lead to boycotts of products and organizations.

As a director, you have a responsibility to exercise caution with online activity to avoid contradicting the company’s ethos. Moreover, directors and executive teams should model positive behavior for others in the company. People pay more attention than you think.

Contributes to success. 

As a director, a strong personal brand isn’t just for your own benefit. It matters to the company you serve, influencing public perception, effectiveness in the boardroom, recruitment and customer decisions. A strong personal brand enhances credibility and inspires trust.

Be attentive to maintaining a current online presence (especially on LinkedIn). Communicate mindfully and consistently, both in-person and online. These tactics, among others, will not only add to your individual appeal (as a candidate for additional board, job and business opportunities), they will make the board and company better too.

This post originally appeared in Private Company Director

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