Creating a brand isn’t a set it and forget it proposition. Even after you’ve gotten a job or built a successful business, you need to nurture and protect your brand. A strong, positive brand shows you have character and competence, which can carry you far in business and work. But one little flub can ruin your personal brand, your business and your future work prospects. Here are some tips to keeping your personal brand growing and healthy:
Be the best you can be. Several years ago, I bought an HP computer and after installing some software, I started to have trouble. Not only was I able to talk to a live support person, but she called me back several days later to make sure the fix worked. This experience has always stuck with me because so often when I need tech help, I can’t get live support, at least not without paying a hefty fee, and here HP was calling me to follow-up.
More than anything, brand is about value. Providing stellar service or being a top-notch employee is the best way to maintain and expand your personal brand. Respond to issues in a timely, professional manner and don’t cut corners.
Watch what you say and do. No one would question that Abercrombie & Fitch caters to the young, hip and cool, but the company’s CEO Mike Jefferies, damaged the brand when he said the company targets “all-American” kids and that a lot of people don’t belong in their clothes, suggesting he didn’t want overweight or ugly people wearing his brand. The comment set off a firestorm of negative publicity, petitions and social media buzz that forced the company to make a public apology.
Building a brand takes a great deal of time and effort that can be ruined in an instant with an insensitive or careless remark. Businesses are not the only ones at risk. Many employees have been fired for comments made on blogs and social media. And while you may be protected by freedom of speech from being arrested for sharing your beliefs, consumers and employers are not bound by that section of the Constitution. Unless you want to answer to upset customers or managers, take care in what you say, not just online, but in front of people who might share your comments with others.
Monitor what others say about you. Remember the telephone game, in which you sat in a circle and a message would be passed from one person to the next? The fun of the game was in discovering how the message changed from the first person to the last. This type of phenomena can happen in business and work as well. Gossip and bad news spreads fast, and often it gets worse and more inaccurate with each retelling. The best way to prevent this is to pay attention to what others say about you. Online, this can be done through Google Alerts, which will send you notifications when your name and/or business name is mentioned.
When you’ve discovered something negative is being said about you, strive to correct it or make it right. Don’t respond with anger or threats, which can inflame the issue and contribute your “bad reputation.” Instead, answer with truth and professionalism.
Your brand is a living, breathing asset that needs your attention and protection. Keep your brand healthy and flourishing by providing the best service possible, being careful about what you say and do, and monitoring what others say about you.
Leslie Truex is a career design expert who has been helping people find or create work that fits their lifestyle goals since 1998 through her website Work-At-Home Success. She is the author of “The Work-At-Home Success Bible” and “Jobs Online: How To Find a Get Hired to a Work-At-Home Job”. She speaks regularly on career-related topics including telecommuting and home business.