Giving the corporate brand a face is an insanely powerful signal

11. Jul 2021

Together with his cousin Christina Dietmayr, Timo Burger is the third generation to run the family business Burgis Knödelliebe in Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate. He is responsible for sales, logistics and marketing. He recognized early on that a great opportunity lies in CEO branding and is therefore a busy brand ambassador under the pseudonym Knödel-Insider – whether on the web via social media or at events such as the Munich Oktoberfest.

Timo Burger, Burgi's love of nodules

“The personality brand serves the corporate brand.

Timo Burger

The interview with Timo Burger was conducted by Christopher Spall.

Mr. Burger, you like to appear in public, for example showing yourself with meadow landlords at the Munich Oktoberfest. What do you expect from this?

I hope that our Burgis brand will become known more quickly. As the owner, I identify 100 percent with the Burgis brand, so I can also be an effective public presence for the brand and maintain direct contact with customers and make new contacts.

Which values of your family business are particularly important to you? And how do you live these values in your daily CEO life?

Handshake quality is particularly important to me – my word is my bond. For me, this also expresses straightforwardness and commitment. But it also shows that you always meet at eye level. When an employee asks me what they should do, I ask back what they suggest. In 90 percent of the cases, the employee says what I would do. This shows me that the values of Burgis, which we exemplify in the management, are also internalized by the employees and that we act very coherently together. In addition, I exemplify our Burgis brand core values day after day or make them visible in public through my activities. We are a family business that is deeply connected to its homeland and does not compromise on its dumplings. We are obsessed with the best quality, are always on the go and come up with something new around the dumpling. In short, Burgis stands for nodular love, and love comes from trust.

Do you have a strategy for your personal marketing that you stick to, or do you just spontaneously grab the opportunities that come your way?

First of all, I have to ask myself: Who am I? Where do I want to go? Where do I want to go with my company? Only when I have that, can I decide whether I want to additionally reinforce that with my personality. Our company produces food products. There, as I said, it’s all about trust. If I as a person fit the company’s brand, then I can reinforce that. So I choose events that fit the brand to be present there. In the process, I also always ask myself: Where do I have the greatest effect? You mentioned the Oktoberfest. I show up there because the event is incredibly positive. The festival and partly the meadow hosts themselves are brands. When you are associated with these brands, you benefit from that reputation.

(…)

The boss is the company’s first and most important brand ambassador – and yes, already inclusive.

How important do you think CEO branding should be for medium-sized companies?

It’s just a huge opportunity. Everyone should consider whether or not to take advantage of this opportunity. Giving the brand a face is an insanely powerful signal. We SMEs should have the courage to seize this opportunity. If it’s not the boss behind the brand, who is? He is the first and most important brand ambassador – and yes, already inclusive.

No testimonial can embody our company as authentically as I do. I live Knödelliebe. As a boss, you have to reflect the company values, otherwise there will be no harmonious effect on the outside. Of course, it must suit you to be present very often, but also internally you cannot underestimate the effect of the CEO branding. No one is born a brand. And just like with other disciplines in the profession, you have to deal with your impact. One’s own appearance does not have to be perfect, it has to be genuine.

Everyone is a brand. Whether he wants to or not. If I don’t do it consciously, others shape my brand.

Many CEOs doubt whether it makes sense at all to link their own face with the corporate brand, and tend to be cautious about their public presence. In the process, I encounter the same fears over and over again. One of them is to make yourself vulnerable. Another, that negative news about oneself could rub off on the company. What advice do you have for these CEOs?

That depends on your private life, of course (laughs). But seriously, fears often result from your own experience. But for the topic of brands, we need openness to new things. However, one point should be kept in mind: Envy. You have to think about what you’re doing. Should I really show off my Ferrari? The car must also match the brand. Just like the restaurant I go to. But I have to pay attention to that anyway. Whether I make a conscious decision to develop my brand. After all, everyone is a brand. Whether he wants to or not. If I don’t do it consciously, others shape my brand. Personally, I prefer to take something in hand before I let others steer

Is there another reason to do personal branding as a CEO?

Personal branding helps make a crucial difference because you help make your company even more visible. For example, it affects how the company is viewed by potential employees. The young generation in particular wants to have faces to the brand. I’m also very approachable as a person and brand ambassador: I sit with food bloggers at the Wiesn and learn firsthand how they use our products, and I build a long-term relationship with them. This is what personal branding makes possible in the first place.

What skills or prerequisites should a CEO basically have in order to successfully drive forward the development of his or her own brand?

Personal branding is the freestyle, which requires a stable company. So first fulfill the duty and then hone the external effect. The basis is one’s own awareness of the brand. I have to look deeply at what my brand stands for in the first place and how I can express that as a person. A brand is more than just colorful pictures. Of course, you should regularly think outside the box and keep an eye on what the competition is doing without copying others. For me, self-confidence is also a prerequisite for successful personal branding. But that doesn’t mean you have to be vocal about your brand. It is rather a “being aware of oneself”.

(…)

How do you see the connection between your personality brand and your company’s brand?

I see myself as a brand ambassador for Burgis. That’s my role. I helped develop the brand and also my role. Mr. Hipp has shown how it works. You can feel the values he exemplifies. Even if that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Brand also means being able to deal with the consequence of not pleasing everyone.

(…)

What role does the CEO’s personality play in the search for suitable personnel in times of a shortage of skilled workers?

It’s great for that. People are looking for orientation. They want a person who is a role model, who is reliable. Therefore, CEO branding is a huge opportunity for attracting suitable personnel. It is also helpful for the employees who have been with the company for a long time. If they trust you, they’ll walk through fire when the going gets tough.

(…)

What other advice can you give to managers and board members?

Absolutely make brand, because they are one anyway, and this is a huge opportunity for themselves and for the company. So it’s part of the job. If you don’t do that as a CEO, you’re doing a bad job.

(…)

Mr. Burger, thank you very much for your extraordinarily clear insights.

The complete interview can be found in the book “Personal Branding – What makes people strong brands” by Christopher Spall.

Deeper insights into the book “Personal Branding”.

Book Personal Branding by Christopher Spall

Immerse yourself in Personal Branding

Personal Branding

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