With as much as 80% of a corporation’s net value being comprised of its brand equity, it’s no wonder that almost 1.5 trillion dollars are spent on corporate branding initiatives.

While most CEOs readily understand the need to build brand equity at the corporate level or for products, services, intellectual property, etc., very few understand the substantial benefits that are created from increasing their personal brand equity.

The simple fact is that many entrepreneurs and senior executives completely miss out on one of the most powerful branding strategies available in today’s market – the creation of their own personal brand. In today’s post, I’ll discuss the power of personal branding.

When reading newspapers and periodicals, listening to media interviews on the radio, watching guest appearances on the TV, and seeing who gets the speaking invitations you’ll notice that it is usually those professionals who have positioned themselves as innovators and thought leaders through a carefully managed, strategic personal branding campaign. These individuals may, or may not, have anything more to offer than their peers other than the fact that they knew how to brand themselves as subject matter experts.

Picture a very successful high profile company in your mind and you will likely find that their executives have not only established themselves as leaders inside their firms, but they are also perceived as industry heavyweights and power brokers to the external world. When a company’s senior executives are viewed as subject matter experts and leaders outside of the company it makes them more valuable to the company. It is a true win-win scenario in that the executive who knows how to manage his/her brand equity in turn increases the brand equity of the enterprise. Because the corporation benefits from the executive’s ability to brand themselves, they are willing to pay more for their services and work harder to retain their talent.

CEOs who run a global enterprise will encounter any number of operating challenges as a matter of routine. Risks, opportunities, challenges, and even corporate crisis can be addressed much more effectively when the CEO’s personal brand has been created by design to add value to these endeavors. In today’s complex global economy a well-crafted personal brand strategy is no longer a luxury, it’s a requirement.

Regardless of how you feel about the following list of individuals, you must agree that they have done a remarkable job of building a personal brand which has oftentimes resulted in the creation of modern-day empires. Think of Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Sam Walton, Ted Turner, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and a whole host of others and you’ll quickly see just how powerful a strong personal brand can be. In fact, spend some time browsing through the Forbes 400 and you find that you recognize far more names than not View a list of the Fortune 500 CEO’s and you’ll be surprised how many of their names have been converted into strong personal brands. Look at the Inc. 500 or Entrepreneur Hot 100 lists and you’ll see a number of strong personal brands in the making.

The reality is that most of us will probably never achieve the status of icons, nor do most of us really aspire to that end. However increasing your personal brand equity is good for adding value to your company’s brand, leveraging your earning power, and improving your job security and/or marketability. Personal branding is far more than an ego-play; it is a smart business. If you don’t know how to create a strong personal brand the following tips will start you in the right direction:

1. Make those around you successful. While some personal brands are built at the expense of others, or on the backs of others, the most highly regarded personal brands are built on the success they have created for others. Think “selfless” as opposed to “selfish.”

2. Hire a coach or mentor. This is something that many successful people struggle with as their pride can be a barrier to seeking the wisdom and counsel of others. However, this is one of the single best investments you can make in building a powerful, sustainable, and respectable personal brand.

3. Invest in continuing education: Okay, so you already earn a significant income, run your own (or someone else’s) business and you’re busy – the reality is that it is far easier to reach the C-suite than to remain there. You will only survive in the corner office if you continue to refine and advance your skill sets and competencies. Never sacrifice or forego learning because you think you don’t have time or worse because you think you already know it all.

4. Learn to work the media, or hire someone to do it for you. When it comes to the media you only have three choices: a.) you can try and remain invisible, but anonymity won’t help you build a brand; b.) you can be a target for the media and while the controversy is not always a bad thing it causes more unnecessary brain damage than you will likely want to incur, or; c.) you can be a friend of the media and serve as a subject matter expert who is available as a resource for the media While the choice is yours, I’d personally recommend option C.

My advice is simple to find a good coach or mentor and start building your personal brand strategy yesterday…you’ll be glad you did.