Move Beyond “Me” to “We” in Your Leadership Brand

Branding Pays book coverToday’s post is by Karen Kang, author of BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand (CLICK HERE to get your copy).  Here’s Karen…

I work with a lot of leaders in startups to Fortune 100 companies on both corporate and personal branding. When it comes to their companies, these leaders have no problem promoting their products or their companies. But when it comes to themselves, there is often a reticence to self-market or brand.

The reasons often boil down to two things: 1) culture and 2) not having a clear idea of what their brand stands for.

Culture and Personal Branding

Many of us have been brought up to think that humility is a virtue. Isn’t personal branding contradictory to being humble, and, therefore, bad? The answer is “no.” Having humility and doing a good job at personal branding are not mutually exclusive.

Personal branding should not be synonymous with egotistical boasting. Personal branding, done right, is educating audiences who could benefit from knowing about your unique value. To be an effective leader, you must have a personal brand that is recognized and valued. A weak personal brand is a liability for recruiting the best talent, partnering with the right companies, financing your business and enhancing your company’s image.

Branding yourself is not only for your benefit, but provides value to the world. If you move your focus from “me” to “we,” your value to the world will increase and people will help to promote your leadership brand because they see value in doing so. Tony Shieh, the CEO of Zappos, provides an excellent example. He has branded both himself and Zappos around the philosophy of “Delivering Happiness.” For Zappos, Tony’s philosophy has created an employee-empowered culture and drives positive engagement in customer service. Today it is a movement that has definitely moved from “me” to “we” as others share this philosophy around the world.

Have a Clear Idea of What Your Brand Stands For

If you don’t have a clear idea of what you are all about, you will feel uneasy about “getting out there” to increase awareness of your leadership brand. The way to move forward with confidence is to have a solid strategy, messages and a plan to educate and build your ecosystem for mutual benefit. But, first find your passion because when you brand from the inside out, your authenticity and energy attracts others.

Leaders need to have a vision or a big idea. For Tony Shieh, it’s delivering happiness as a business and life philosophy. What’s yours? If you have “me-too” ideas, you won’t rise above the noise level. Be strategic about the areas in which you can add value, whether it be a vision of where the market is headed, new management ideas, company culture, global geographies, technology or change. Get other influencers to join in so you are not a lone voice in the woods—that is, educate and enlist them in your cause. Tell your story in a compelling and convincing way. Provide evidence that others support your vision or value, whether it is others sharing your content via social media, speaking opportunities or articles.

The measure of your success is not just what others are saying about you, but in the impact you are making on the world. Moving from “me” to “we” makes your leadership brand both attractive and valuable.

Karen Kang - author of Branding Pays– Karen Kang is the Founder and CEO of BrandingPays LLC, a corporate and personal branding company that offers consulting, training and coaching. The author of BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand, Karen is a sought-after speaker at leading business schools and professional organizations. Find her at, and on Twitter @karenkang.

11 Responses to “Move Beyond “Me” to “We” in Your Leadership Brand”

  1. Ted Lewis says:

    I absolutely agree. It’s a statement of who you are and how you work. I have read so many stories about people who would not do certain things just for the money, but by their action(s) stated this is the way I work! in essences they were branding themselves. It makes the difference in success and failure!

    Ted Lewis

  2. Ted Lewis says:

    Karen Kang has hit the nail directly on the head with her timely book: Branding Pays! It’s the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. What’s makes presidents and CEOs…

    Ted Lewis

    • Karen Kang says:

      Thanks for taking a look at the book, and for your kind endorsement, Ted! I hope the book speaks to leaders, would-be leaders and anyone who wants to move forward in the world.

  3. AWAN says:

    Leadership is not about big guns,or big personalities. Leadership is about serving communities and giving job opportunities to people who has been out of work for decades.

    Majorities of politicians in the Western World exploit poverty, disability and unemployment. They got very unwise attitude of arrogance to national issues of extreme importance. This is why it takes decades to bring any change either through legislation or through Executives Orders. By the time, these orders come through, a generation is lost.

    So what leadership you are talking about?

    • Karen Kang says:

      It doesn’t matter whether you lead a company, non-profit or a country, leadership branding is about matching your passions with what the world needs and making a difference. It’s the doing and engaging that will make you known for something that counts.

  4. I think the best way to build your brand is to make others stars. When I run monthly meetings with the whole company I want to make sure that at least a few people get applause and recognition. Just like being nice, it does not cost you anything at all and you reap great rewards in terms of morale, motivation and performance. At the same time as you give someone public recognition, make yourself small. If you put someone in the limelight, be sure to not step in there yourself and take part of the credit. Make people stars, not yourself.

    • Karen Kang says:

      There is a time and a place for you to be a star, and there is a time and a place for you to promote others as stars. Some executives I work with always hang in the background and they are shirking their responsibility to brand themselves, and by doing so, raise the brand of their company.

  5. sizwe says:

    Hi Karen
    I am encouraged to read this mentioned above about personal branding. I always tell colligues that they are business themselves therefore they must carry themselves in a manner that makes them attractive in the business world. Other businesses should be interested in doing business with them. Just becouse it them! I’m very encouraged


  6. […] is why, when I saw “Move Beyond Me to We in Your Leadership Brand,” I clicked to learn […]

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