Rebranding the C-suite



According to this article from, the C-Suite remains shy when it comes to social media. According to the study of Fortune 500 CEOs:

  • Less than 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have a linkedin account
  • Less than 6% of Fortune 500 CEOs have a twitter account (and that number has actually doubled since last year)
  • 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social profile whatsoever

Clearly, social media isn’t a priority for the C-Suite at Fortune 500 companies. SEC regulations, as well as the obligations of running one of the largest companies in the world, can make it difficult to keep current on your twitter feed. Recently, Warren Buffett joined twitter (he follows no one and has over a million followers).

Setting social media aside (and I’ll leave it to you to take sides), there’s a bigger issue at stake for the C-Suite at any company. While every executive works for a company’s brand, every executive in today’s economy is a brand.

Customers and employees need to understand the promise of the brand, and providing thought leadership is an important part of, well, leadership.

Communication is the only method for making your ideas known.

As a strategic executive, providing guidance and vision can help to re-brand the C-Suite. That re-branding starts with you.

While adoption of social media may be slow within the upper echelons of American business, don’t wait to adopt effective communication with your team. Connecting with your customers (both internal and external) is a requirement of the corner office. The only way to duplicate and share your excellence is through effective communication.

We all work for a brand. And, if you are truly a leader, you are a brand. People want to know what you stand for, where you’re going, and what you’re going to deliver. Your personal brand reinforces the company brand, creating greater understanding and support from the people that matter most to you. And that connection strengthens the bottom line. Don’t miss an opportunity to share your thought leadership – that’s re-branding for the C-Suite.


Chris Westfall is the author of The NEW Elevator Pitch. His latest project is The 118 Pitch Course, with Bloomberg TV correspondent Jeffrey Hayzlett. Follow him on twitter @westfallonline


Image credit: burakowski / 123RF Stock Photo

Chris Westfall is the national elevator pitch champion and author of The NEW Elevator Pitch. His strategies have created multi-million dollar revenue streams for a wide variety of Fortune 1000 companies, non-profits and entrepreneurs. With a coaching practice that spans four continents, he’s appeared on CNN, ABC NEWS and various other media outlets. Find out more at

  • TedCoine

    Chris, what a powerful smack-down of a post! We have a lot of C-level leaders who read Switch and Shift, and a whole lot of next-gen CEOs, too (contenders and heirs apparent, in other words). Many of these folks are social-savvy, or we probably wouldn’t have found each other. But the vast majority of their peers? Oiy.

    I spend a big chunk of my week researching interesting companies, and viewing the social profiles of the executive team and the board is only routine by now. What I have learned from years of such research confirms everything you’ve shared with us today: a few top corporate leaders have profiles on LinkedIn, many without even a picture… and often nothing else. This explains the appalling state of the Fortune 500’s social media efforts in general: if the big chiefs don’t believe in something, they aren’t going to get behind it, and it will suffer as a result. Imagine how under-funded a company’s phone system would be if the CEO and her board didn’t use the phone, or understand why others should.

    This whole situation sets tomorrow’s market leaders up for a HUGE win. I often point out when advising corporate leaders, what you do poorly opens the door nice and wide for your little competitors to walk right through. Companies don’t fail on their own. Rather, they fail because somebody more agile comes along and offers their top employees, and then their customers, a better deal.

    Finally, a great big “atta boy!” for this line:

    “While every executive works for a company’s brand, every executive in today’s economy is a brand.”

    …And for this:

    “Customers and employees need to understand the promise of the brand, and providing thought leadership is an important part of, well, leadership.”

    Leadership in the Age of Social cannot be done in private. Either a leader is social media-savvy or his successor will be.

  • Jennifer Ledet

    Amen! Great post Chris! I agree with Ted (below) that C-level leaders who don’t/won’t engage socially are creating an opportunity for their competition. Sharing your brand/thought-leading philosophy socially is today’s equivalent of “management by walking around.” Thanks.

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  • Chris Westfall

    Well said, Jennifer – the best way to connect with the “virtual office” is by finding your voice online. Sharing real insight and a C-suite perspective has to be an seen as a competitive advantage for the organization.

  • Chris Westfall

    Ted, I appreciate the feedback! Engagement starts with acknowledgment – and recognizing the value of an online audience seems to be a real advantage for Gen Y and our future leaders. Why miss an opportunity to share thought leadership? Is it a lack of interest, or understanding? As we see more and more stories about the power of social sharing from the C-Suite, our current state of affairs will be reversed. Actions that point to profitability are hard to deny; making that connection for the C-Suite continues to be an issue. Up-and-coming brands like Warby Parker understand the intersection of killer products and socially-savvy leadership communication. Hopefully, the message of Switch and Shift can help others to follow suit!

  • Tim Leman

    Chris & Ted: great, great stuff here! Really thinking about all you say here and will be posting on it this week.

  • Chris Westfall

    Thanks Tim – glad to connect with you on linkedin as well. It’s an honor to be a part of the conversation here on Switch and Shift

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