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Building your leadership brand

Brand BuildingFrom Our TeamLeadership

What is a leadership brand?

Let’s start with what we know about brands: a brand is not just a logo or a tagline. A brand is a promise. A brand is an experience. A brand stands for something bigger than just the functional benefits of a product or a service.

Do these same principles of product branding apply to the brands of people? The short answer is “yes,” especially when it comes to building a relevant, impactful leadership brand.

Your leadership brand is YOU. It is who you are, what you stand for, and the experience you create for others. It’s how others perceive you based on how they experience you: through your decisions, words, and actions. What you say, what you do, and how you “show up” for others all matter as you build your brand as a leader. Are you putting your best foot forward?

In order to BREAKTHRU on your journey of leading a team, organization, or movement toward impact, you must inspire confidence and trust in those around you. One important way you can inspire this confidence and establish your leadership brand as one others can trust is through telling your unique story and telling it well. The more impactful your storytelling is as a leader, the more you will attract like-minded, talented people aligned with your vision, purpose, and mission.

Telling your story

In order to establish your leadership brand, you have to master the art of impactful storytelling. Your story is a clear point of contact for others about your brand–their perception of you matters.

So, what are you putting into that story? How are you crafting that story? Are you intentional about your main messages? It is imperative that your brand story and messages are guided by your purpose, mission, and vision.

Here are some basic rules of storytelling we’ve learned from our work in building leadership brands with over 100 impactful women leaders.

Rule #1: BE YOU

The first basic rule of impactful storytelling won’t be surprising–you have to BE YOU.

You have to be authentic, and in order to do so, you are going to have to be a little bit vulnerable. You are going to have to get comfortable with and be willing to share your “why”–the thing that drives you. Frankly, people don’t care as much about what you do for work, functionally, but they do connect emotionally with their heart and their mind to your “why.”

Show your true colors–that’s where people find connectivity. So to be authentic and vulnerable, you have to start with “why.” Soon you’ll feel more comfortable sharing that with people and not feeling too grandiose or too self-important because you’ll see that your “why” is actually in service of others. So let’s find those common points of connection with others.

Start with you. Start with your “why.”

Rule #2: Hone Your Main Messages

The second rule of impactful storytelling is to hone your main messages. You can’t just “wing it” if you want to intentionally build your brand and impact as a leader. Your main messages should be intrinsic to who you are, and never random or hastily thrown together.

You have to practice the exercise of strategically refining your main message themes based on what matters to you. You also have to consider: does the content you put out into the world, either through a speech, a post, or a presentation, create a positive perception of your brand as a leader? Is it true? Is it informed by your intended impact?

Always remember that your messages influence others’ perceptions of you and the actions they may take. So, what are you trying to tell others about yourself? What is the impact you are seeking, or what are you trying to motivate others to do? Others will get to know you through your main messages, so choose them thoughtfully.

Rule #3: Know Your Audience

The third rule of impactful storytelling is knowing your audience. Empathy is crucial for understanding how you are perceived by others and tuning into who your audience is and what is important to them.

It is vital to know who your main messages are reaching, whether it’s a client, a recruit, a player, an administrator, an employee, etc. You have to ask yourself: who is this person? What’s motivating to them? What do they need? How can I help them?

It’s a magic equation; Knowing your audience allows you to hone messages that people are going to care about. It’s about resonating with them and being relevant to them. If your message isn’t relevant to your audience, you’re not going to connect.

Rule #4: It's Not Just What You Say, It's How You Say It

The fourth and final rule of impactful storytelling is: it’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it. The words that you choose matter a lot, but how you convey them is equally, if not more, important.

How you deliver your messages to your audience is as valuable as the messages themselves. Your body language and nonverbal cues can have a powerful impact on how others perceive you. How you deliver your words is also a powerful tool you can control; with just the turning of a dial, we can change our inflection, pitch, rhythm, and pace. You might have found yourself using a different cadence over the phone versus during a speech, and this is a natural adaptation–almost 90% of the opinions people have about us are based on voice

With this in mind, we have to listen to ourselves. What could we improve about our delivery? What could be stronger? Our tone of voice creates an emotional response–whether positive or negative–so we must be aware of our impact.

Your tone of voice expresses a manifestation of your values.

Build a brand inspired by you.


We are in a tumultuous time in which we’re trying to lay the groundwork and be strategic–setting a foundation for what might be next. We are trying to reach others and establish ourselves as leaders. Fortunately, your leadership brand transcends your role. Your brand is YOU. So what type of brand are you building? Is the story that you’re telling about yourself now going to set you up for and serve you in the future?

It all comes back to believing in yourself, having self-awareness, and putting the clear version of your leadership brand out into the world through authentic storytelling supported by your brand story and main messages.

Ready to create your own leadership brand story?

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