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Thought Leadership Marketing: The Power of Your Personal Brand

The terms “thought leadership” and “personal brand” occur in conversations across both business and social spectrums.  

The topic of thought leadership marketing is almost unavoidable. Topics like the following abound.

  • How to build your personal brand
  • How to write thought leadership content
  • How to establish thought leadership
  • How to develop a winning content strategy for thought leadership

Figuring out the “how” of thought leadership is important. But what matters more is understanding why a successful executive or a brand would want to invest in a thought leadership strategy.

What is the ROI on thought leadership marketing?

Proving the value of thought leadership marketing starts with understanding what it is.

If you’re asking the above questions, good. If you’re still asking “What does thought leadership mean?” here’s a working definition OBI Creative has refined in our years of developing personal brands and content for thought leadership for successful executives:

Thought leadership is a type of content marketing that taps into the experience, talent and passion within a business to elevate its brand though the positioning of key, trustworthy experts in particular areas of interest to clients and prospects.  

Breaking that down, thought leadership marketing creates a symbiosis between executives’ personal brands and the brands they shepherd.

You are the brand. The brand is you.

If you are in executive leadership, your relationship with your company is so close you’re your personal brand is almost identical to the company brand.

What you do reflects on the company brand and what the company does reflects on you personally.

That reality only increases when the CEO owns or founded the brand.

Think Elon Musk and Tesla. Steve Jobs and Apple. Walt Disney and Disney.

These are all thought leadership examples where the close connection between the person and the brand are clearly visible.

In Disney’s case, the founder’s personality is so embedded in the brand that his legacy continues to live on in the Disney brand long after his death.

Executing Smart Thought Leadership Marketing

A smart thought leadership strategy leaves room for the personal brand to breathe while reinforcing the company brand. 

When OBI Creative develops a thought leadership strategy for an executive, we start where we always do — with research.  

Our assignment is always to position the executive leadership as thought leaders in complementary, yet distinct, areas so they can engage the interest and capture the attention of key audiences.  

Each leader speaks to their ideal audiences on platforms that intersect those audiences’ daily digital behaviors and search patterns.  

While specific content strategy and messaging varies from one thought leader to the next, the overarching goal is to enhance the corporate brand. 

We develop a personal brand strategy for each executive outlining: 

  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Personal and professional attributes (both current and aspirational).
  • Personal mission statements.
  • Personal brand positions.
  • Personal brand positioning and messaging architecture.
  • Personal brand values.
  • Personal brand tone and archetype.

These components build a personal brand temple, constructed and designed to strengthen and support the overall corporate brand positioning, messaging and values.

Proof points, messaging, content strategy and specific tactics are then developed.

Thought Leadership Articles + Other Tactics

This is perhaps the entry point for most professionals considering thought leadership marketing: execution.

But understanding the foundation upon which it is based makes all the difference between profitable thought leadership that supports brand and company goals and objectives, and those that fall flat.

When executed in concert with the overall brand strategy, key executives become the public voice and face of the brand in the media, in their industries and among peers and employees.

Specific thought leadership tactics can include:

  • LinkedIn profile optimization and storytelling. 
  • Original articles and consistent LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter content.
  • Creation of a personal brand website.
  • Original articles on topics for which the executive can speak with authority.
  • Media pitching and placements.
  • Conference and event presentations.
  • Internal communication tactics to reinforce brand values and foster engagement with employees.
  • SEO efforts to optimize web and social content for search.

Specific content metrics for thought leadership tactics should be established up front with progress reported on regularly.  

Tactics should be geared toward the individual’s comfort level and availability. Ideally, other subject matter experts in the company can be weaved in to the thought leadership plan and used to further expand the reach and awareness of the corporate brand.

Getting help with thought leadership marketing 

Thought leadership marketing is a bit like SEO — you can wade in the water or you can take a deep dive. But all the while, you must do is keep the big picture in mind.

Thought leadership marketing is good for both executives and the brands they steer. When marketing strategies and goals align, the combined effort is more powerful than either could have been alone.

Need help executing a stellar thought leadership marketing strategy for your personal brand and business? Let the pros at OBI Creative help.

Contact us today for a discussion about your thought leadership strategy.