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Kobe Bryant’s 60 Point Finale and what he has taught us about CEO and personal branding

John Salmons with Kobe

This is our client John Salmons as he was guarding Kobe Bryant which he did many times over his 10+ year career.  Here is what John said about Kobe before his big game last night:  "It always took your 100% focus to guard Kobe! Seeing the Lakers on the schedule was always a game I prepared a little differently for, because it was always the ultimate challenge. The NBA will miss him! Congrats Kobe for graduating from the game."

I never had the honor or more accurate the torturous deed of guarding Kobe Bryant.  I have however been watching him for 20 years.  To say that he was viewed as a villain for most of his career is a fair statement.  However, Bryant did a masterful rebrand this year.  He realized he will have a much longer career off the court than he ever had as a basketball player.  He did a farewell tour that endeared him to the fans and he left everything on the court last night.  He scored 15 of the last 17 points for the Lakers and he won the game. 

This last year in many ways rewrites his history.  He now will be remembered for his 5 titles, being a great competitor, and for ending his career scoring 60 points in a game.  A feat at age 37 seems completely implausible. 

I could only hope that we could help our CEO clients build a brand that performs a fraction of what Bryant has done.  Now what is next?  We get to watch Kobe Bryant be a CEO.  I have no doubt he will be a great one. 





Creating an Authentic Brand



A huge branding trend of 2016 is blurring the lines between companies and their audiences: authenticity.

The public is craving content that is genuine from companies they follow. It has been shown that consumers engage more with companies that make an effort to build a relationships than faceless companies that seem unapproachable.

People like knowing what your Brand has to offer but people love knowing the people behind the brand. Knowing that big name companies are run by people just like them ignites trust and gives them meaning for supporting a brand.  With the explosion of social media brands now have more opportunities to connect with their audiences on a personal level than ever before.  

Ascendant Strategy helps grow and connect your brand to the audience you desire through PR campaigns, social media management, brand strategy development and more.   


Ascendant Group launches office in Cairo to expand CEO Branding focus globally

Vantage BDS, an Egyptian business development solutions company signed a partnership agreement with Ascendant Group, the global frontrunner in CEO Branding. Ascendant’s unique service focuses predominantly on emphasizing and spotlighting to the public, the outstanding capabilities and expertise of professionals who are leading organizations and institutions within both the private and public sectors, which positively impacts the credibility of such entities, ultimately inducing a higher confidence level from stakeholders and enhancing their top line revenue.

“The success of any organization or institution depends primarily on the capabilities and performance of its people, from top management to all functional and operational personnel,” says Ezz Eldin El Nattar, CEO of Vantage BDS and now Partner in the new Ascendant Global Division. “However, a capable leader is the driver of success and therefore it is important to all stakeholders to be aware of the competence, aptitude and success stories of such a leader.” On entering into this partnership Ascendant Group CEO Raoul Davis added “Ezz ran the 9th largest business in Egypt at one time we couldn’t think of a better person to head our global outreach efforts in the region. We’ve had success in the United States, China, and Peru and look forward to helping CEOs in the region increase their visibility by raising their level of recognition within both their industry as well as the global audiences.”

Ascendant Group for over a decade have developed a proprietary 5 phase brand model, which has created a proven framework through which they execute a custom built brand acceleration program using core components such as brand strategy, public relations, social media, design, strategic alliance development, and book deals/marketing.

The official signing ceremony for this exclusive partnership occurred during the CEOs Summit, which will be held at the Cairo Marriott Hotel in January 2016.

About Vantage BDS

Vantage BDS is a business development solutions consultancy, established in 2003 with a mission to provide a wide range of organizations within the MENA Region with effective, state-of-the-art solutions to complex business-related problems. Their clientele range from startups to multi-million dollar enterprises within the private, public and government sectors. Utilizing their vast professional network and capitalizing on the diverse corporate experiences of their consultants, Vantage BDS has successfully developed and executed a series of creative business development projects and strategies, which have positively impacted the bottom lines of their clients in the most challenging times. Vantage BDS is an associate member of Global Trade Matters, the private sector think tank for economic and political reform policies.

About Ascendant Group

Built on referrals and inspired by trust since 2004, Ascendant utilizes a proprietary CEO brand development and implementation model that is amongst the most integrated in the world. With a clientele that ranges from multibillion dollar Chinese companies to mid size companies in the U.S., and retired professional athletes with business ventures, Ascendant offers a vast experience across a number of industries. Recently the company was named a Founding Member of the Forbes Agency Council; a designation reserved for some of the world’s leading agencies. You can learn more at


When you’re a small business owner, it can be tempting to stick to tried and true methods for branding and promoting your business. However, the marketplace is constantly evolving, so what worked last year isn’t guaranteed to work this year. Because branding largely determines how your customers view your business, it’s critical to be in touch with current branding trends.

The following are 2016’s most important small business branding trends and how to best use them to your advantage.

1. Personal Branding is Now Mandatory, not an Option

Your personal brand and image as the owner of your company is just as important as your company’s brand and image. The two are interrelated and are equally important. For instance, would you take health and fitness advice from a business run by someone who appeared unhealthy and out of shape? If your personal brand doesn’t align with your company’s, that disconnect will put off potential customers and damage your bottom line. This methodology is called “CEO branding,” and it’s the art of using tactics such as PR, social media, book deals, speaking engagements, and award procurement to provide the clearest point of differentiation any great company has, its leadership. Our business Ascendant has been doing this for over a decade

2. Increased Social Media Budget

Organic reach isn’t dead but it isn’t what it used to be, either. In April 2012, Facebook for Business reported that pages organically reached about 16% of their fans. In 2015, that number plummeted to 2.6%. The fact is, if you want to reach a bigger audience on social media platforms, you’re going to have to pay for it. However, don’t despair. Truthfully, Facebook and Instagram are doing a great job making these services much more efficient and measurable than other forms of advertising. Twitter and Pinterest have followed suit. While LinkedIn advertising tends to be more costly and, in my opinion, has a while to go before it becomes a more efficient spend.

See the full article here:

Ascendant Group Branding Launching Global Division

The Ascendant Group, known for designing and executing successful PR strategies to enhance the personal profiles of CEOs and executives, announced it has launched a global division.

“We’ve built a company focused on exceeding the high expectations of an executive clientele – and we are thrilled to officially expand our services on the global scale.” – Raoul Davis, CEO

An established titan in the field of personal branding, Ascendant Group not only delivers top line CEO branding strategies but also works with business leaders to execute those strategies. Ascendant Group’s established clients, ranging from CEOs at $5 to $250 million companies to executives at Fortune 500 companies, often seek multi-year relationships with the company. Clients benefitting from Ascendant’s services have taken the spotlight in prestigious media outlets and have seen unprecedented company growth.   

Whether executives want to expand their brands into the United States or want to leverage the prestige US media outlets offer, foreign clients can rely on Ascendant Group’s experience to increase their media presence in the US. Ascendant Group is already serving clients in Peru, China, Switzerland, and Canada. The Ascendant Group’s promise is to secure guaranteed significant visibility for foreign clients within the first 60 days of working with them by utilizing public relations in the United States – a mandate the company has been able to fulfill for 100% of their current foreign clients. The value of Ascendant’s global division lies in exposure to the largest and most recognizable media outlets in the world. In turn, this global presence can impress shareholders, customers, and potential strategic partners.


With the combination of a unique marketing mix and focused execution, the Ascendant Group has helped place clients in The New York Times, ABC News, and other high-profile media outlets.

If you would like more information, please contact or 302.450.4494 ext 202.

New CEO Branding Book Coming June 2015

Dr. Marc Fetscherin is an Associate Professor of International Business and Marketing and a Cornell Distinguished Faculty at Rollins College, Florida, USA. His expertise is in international marketing with a specialization on marketing strategy, marketing research and branding. 

He asked Ascendant CEO Raoul Davis to contribute to his new book  "CEO Branding: Theory and Practice" (2015).which includes some of the top experts on branding.  Davis elected to write perhaps the books most practical chapter on CEO Branding:  How Perception Defines Reality.  Davis provides a tactical tool book on how to build a CEO brand.  In contributing to the book Davis says "Dr. Fetscherin has put together the most comprehensive book on CEO branding to date.  It covers it from a practical and academic perspective.  Anyone interested in understanding how a CEO can impact the perception of a company should pick it up."  

The book can be purchased at

Why LinkedIn Matters for CEO and Personal Branding

Most people view LinkedIn as just another account they need to remember a password for. The truth is, if done the right way, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to propel your business into the next level. What is that next level? Whatever you want it to be! Imagine you are an accounting firm looking for new clients, you are also looking to expand your business globally. All you really need to do to get the ball rolling is establish an excellent online presence using LinkedIn, and brand your company in a way that promotes professionalism and authenticity.

Let’s flip the scenario. Imagine you are looking for an accounting firm to help handle your business, but you are busy and don’t have a lot of time to do research. Wouldn’t it be simple enough to log into LinkedIn and search for firms that could offer assistance?

When creating the account it is extremely important you understand what your potential clients are looking for and how you can portray this through your account. Understanding how to apply strategy and research to your profile will make all the difference in your ultimate success rate.

Overall, LinkedIn is a powerful outlet to expand, promote, hire, connect, and succeed in a fast paced business world. While social media is adapting and certainly becoming one of the strongest social tools known to man, it is strongly encouraged for businesses to learn how to adapt and survive using this tool.

For more information and help with using social media use the link below to read an article all about the business pros and cons of different social media outlets.

Personal Branding Strategies – Connect With Your Clients

In a world where people make connections off of emotion, it is important to grasp the concept of personal branding. The reality is that clients rarely make a personal connection with a brand — they usually make that connection with a person. Understanding how to use this to your advantage will help make a difference in the way potential clients view your business.

Understand WHY: Proving expertise in your field demonstrates the flexibility you have while promoting your business. If you have a group of employees that can each find a niche of their own it will help you reach a larger variety of potential clients. For instance, a financial firm should have investment advisors focused in different categories, such as investment planning for university professors, athletes, or real estate investors. Your team will be speaking a common language with clients.

Read more on how to promote personal branding and the importance of connecting with your clients here:

Innovative financing strategies

Here is an excerpt of a recent article our CEO published at Forbes

It seems that in today’s business world there are thousands of ways to be tricked and pushed into putting your money where it doesn’t belong. In my recent Forbes article 3 Lesser-Known Strategies to Secure Business Financing, I discuss different ways to ensure the quality of your money and hard work. The first tip is simple, Figure Out Creative Loan Structures for Friends, Family and Business Partners. No investor likes sweating bullets to get paid in a world where VCs, angel investors and private equity firms are steadily increasing their standards as they are pummeled with potential deals. This sort of creativity isn’t only good business sense — it will become necessary.

The next tip is  to Use Term Insurance to Secure a Small Business Loan. If a small business owner goes to a bank seeking a loan, the bank often won’t issue a loan without a life insurance policy. And finally Understand That Entrepreneurship Is a Full-Time Job. Accepting the idea that the job never ends will be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself. So many business leaders never took the next step in their career because they became to excited the minute their product/service took launch. The truth is, work never ends for entrepreneurs. Whatever business your in, if you are in charge there is no way out of hard work.

If you think this is interesting, please take a look at the full article on Forbes website:

5 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Personal Brand

Understandably, many young careerists focus first on building a successful brand. However, it is just as important to understand what can negatively affect your brand, and how to avoid killing all the hard work you’ve put in so far.

A colleague of mine, Chris Collins of, distinguishes between getting branded and getting labeled. Getting labeled means you’ve lost control; people are defining your brand behind your back in ways that would make you cringe, and your potential is being flushed down the toilet.

Luckily, you won’t have to fish your brand out of trouble if you avoid making these five killer mistakes:

Lack of Intention

If you don’t know exactly what your brand is, who your target audience is and what you want that audience’s perception of your brand to be, your brand becomes meaningless. I hear too many job seekers indicate they are trying to reach “everyone.” Well, reaching everyone just is not possible.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be all things to all people, but the fact is that unfocused brands get slaughtered.

Taking Too Long to Explain What You Do

There’s a reason the art of the elevator pitch is alive and well. People have short attention spans, so your brand needs to make an immediate impact. If your brand doesn’t instantly resonate, you’ve already lost whomever you’re speaking to.

If I see someone at a conference I want to network with, I don’t approach them until I know exactly how I want to open the conversation. This most often involves identifying something to say that I know will resonate so I can develop enough rapport to connect. In branding, connecting is everything.

Those who are verbose get a polite nod – and a quick exit from the conversation.

Asking for Support Before You Clearly Demonstrate Value

Anyone who has watched “Shark Tank” knows that if you ask for a deal with an insane valuation without demonstrating value means you’ll be hearing “You’re dead to me!” before you can finish your pitch.

Similarly in the job market, your personal network, and especially employers, aren’t obligated to help you until you’ve clearly demonstrated value to them. How have you helped them? What networking karma have you established? See how you can help them.

Sowing seeds makes people want to reciprocate. No seeds, and you have nothing to sow.

Having an Average or Below-average Online Presence

Your online presence is an opportunity to clearly define your brand. And there is a very real opportunity to grow that brand and demonstrate expertise via LinkedIn, get feedback via Facebook and follow trends and employers on Twitter.

Just as social media can help build your brand, negative Google results can also spell the end of your credibility. Have you Googled yourself lately? What did you see? What do you need to fix?

Not taking great care with your social accounts, blog or personal website is the equivalent of inviting guests over to a dirty house. 

Poor Temperament

Authenticity and maturity are two of the biggest factors that drive trust. Being defensive or contrived is a sure turnoff. If a contact, colleague or commenter asks you a question about your stance on an issue, do you respond with a smile… or do you get agitated?

When it comes to authenticity, realize not everyone needs to buy what you are selling. Not everyone needs to agree with you. And they won’t. But your brand depends on how you react to negativity – and how resilient you are when things aren’t going well. Turn into a troll, even once, and everyone around you will assume that is how you’ll react every time.

Building your brand is a huge investment of time and energy. Don’t let a weak brand leave your plans and goals dead on arrival… avoid these five brand killers!