Thought Leaders Increasingly Hold the Keys to Brand Reputation and Trust
In 2005, Steve Jobs gave one of the great commencement speeches. You’ve probably seen it on YouTube, along with more than 40 million others. It had a relatively simple premise, with powerful context. “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life,” he said. “That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.”
What’s the relevance you ask? Because, this also happens to be one of the great examples of thought leadership. Jobs isn’t focused on his business, his work, or his product. Rather, about insight and wisdom.
And as the new year gets underway, there’s never been a more important time for brands to invest in thought leaders and thought leadership. For four primary reasons:
- AI. Increased use of generative AI platforms is going to flood the market with even more content. Amidst this automated cacophony, brands must develop and invest in unique voices and content that rise above the noise and capture attention.
- Customer acquisition. 2,600 senior executives were asked to rank the reasons they chose to do business with someone. At the top of the list was the “quality of a firm’s ideas and their thought leadership” ahead of “attractive pricing, the strength of the product…”
- Business lifecycles. 95% of your audience isn’t ready to buy or partner up just yet. They’re browsing, and connecting with people. You need to create content that leaves an imprint, for when they are ready.
- Findability. In 2024, Google’s algorithms will increasingly favor content with E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) – giving well conceived, authentic thought leadership an opportunity to crack the code, climb higher in search rankings and capture attention that matters.
Thought leadership isn’t just about producing content; it’s about building recognition and reputation. According to a 2022 study by Edelman and LinkedIn, 61% of decision-makers believe an organization’s thought leadership can be either moderately or a lot more effective at demonstrating the potential value of its products and services compared to traditional product-oriented marketing.
But thought leadership isn’t just about being an information dispenser. It’s about generating engaging content and sharing information that sparks conversation, ignites imaginations, and challenges the status quo. Whether through a video or a blog, a panel, podcast or webinar, sharing unique perspectives, unconventional solutions, and powerful storytelling delivers. A 2023 McKinsey report found that companies with strong thought leadership programs achieve 20% higher profit margins than their competitors.
By establishing your brand as a thought leader, you become a trusted voice in your industry, attracting not just customers, but partners, investors, and talent. In a sea of automated sameness, thought leadership becomes the ultimate differentiator. Individual voices, forged in experiences and values, set your brand apart from the AI-powered masses. This authenticity breeds trust and loyalty, creating a community around your vision instead of just a list of customers.
So, as we step into the AI-powered future of 2024, remember this: it’s not just about algorithms and data. It’s about people and passion, real and unique insights – wrapped in great storytelling – that connect brands with success.
You just need to find your three stories. That’s it. No big deal.