- Player: Koo Govender
- Company: VWV Group
- Claim to fame: Koo Govender is the CEO of experiential marketing agency, VWV, which turns over R230 million annually. She is a master at marrying personal and company branding after being the face and voice of M-Net and DStv for 22 years.
Building a company’s values and identity over the course of its lifetime can be tricky: In the start-up stage the founder and company are invariably one and the same, but as people and functionality get added, as CEOs come and go, there’s the risk that those values and the personality that created the business’s following in the first place can be lost.
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.
Personal branding: Critical when choosing who to lead your company
“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.”
CEOs planting trees isn’t just inadequate, it’s damaging
“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 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.
“Similarly, with my vision of empowering women and VWV’s investment in that same cause, our genuine behaviour attracts 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.”