When you’ve built a career as the face and voice of M-Net and DStv for 22 years, you learn a thing or two about merging personal and company brand-building. Here, Koo Govender provides insights into how she’s leveraged the two for the greater good.
Brand building, especially for a growing company can be a tricky thing, particularly when CEOs come and go over time and, as you grow in size, staff and functionality, you run the risk of your organisation losing the spark and personality that endeared it to its core market as a start-up.
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The key to preventing this from happening is to ensure that your executive team live, eat and breathe the company’s values because they align with their own personal values.
Koo Govender is now the CEO of experiential marketing agency, VWV, which turns over R230 million annually. This is how she’s leveraged her personal branding and company branding to achieve growth.
On CEOs and personal branding
“When it comes to authenticity, a company and its leaders have to walk the talk. It’s an essential component of personal and company brand alignment. For me personally, women empowerment is a cause that I’m very passionate about and through my positions at M-Net and DStv, I was able to create a lot of awareness with breast health education through CSI.
"Here at VWV, they’re just as passionate about empowering women as I am, I’m the first woman CEO in its history and in 2014 VWV launched the Phakama Women’s Academy, an initiative designed to empower women studying marketing and communications through Vega, AAA and UJ. Those are both examples of personal passions and corporate values aligning and working together.”
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“Authenticity is critical with personal and corporate branding. You absolutely cannot push something you’re not passionate about because of increasing consumer demand for ethical companies. You have to be passionate because people will see right through the pretence, and that can be extremely damaging to the reputations of both you personally and the company by undermining public trust.
"It’s critical for a company to hire executives with brand alignment in mind, not just what the individual can do for the bottom line. If they’re out in the public, values have to marry.”
Managing personal/corporate brands after hours
“Being a successful leader is about representing the company in the way that it wants to be represented. At the same time, you need to be able to let your hair down and enjoy yourself. It concerned me in the past about how to represent my personal brand of ‘encourage, motivate, inspire,’ on social media.
"The solution is this: When something is not for public consumption I make it clear that it’s not. When having fun, I surround myself with trusted family and friends and I’m clear from the outset that this is for our personal enjoyment and not for public consumption.
"They respect my wishes and there are no awkward charades images appearing online that then need managing. It’s a win-win for my personal and corporate image.”
How personal and corporate brand alignment creates business growth
“With Steve Jobs and his personal brand of driving innovation forward, so too Apple was at the leading edge of consumer tech. Together, it created a formidable, united brand that is trusted by millions of consumers and attracts new business year on year. People will buy new Apple products before they even know what the product can do because of that trust.
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"Similarly, with my vision of empowering women and VWV’s investment in that same cause, our genuine behaviour then attract clients who believe in and support the same things.
"They’re then exposed to a truly excellent service and customer experience, and the result of that experience is repeat business and referrals. Our holistic approach and focus on alignment is one of the reasons we’re expected to grow our revenue by another 10% come the close of the 2014-15 financial year.”