I’ve followed Goldman Sachs in the news through good and bad since the onset of the credit crisis. After learning about their corporate culture and brand image through peers and as an intern, I developed a deep respect for the Goldman Sachs brand. Before 2008 Goldman held a very distinct position in the business world boasting a reputation more illusive and revered than most other companies. Goldman is very meticulous about how its brand is managed – much of which stems from its distinguished corporate culture. Being a part of that culture had an impact on my personal brand as did my other experiences. Although Goldman’s strengths are not as frequently celebrated as of late, there are still branding lessons that some can learn from Wall Street’s most infamous institution:
Make yourself #1
The Goldman brand certainly has a heavy elitist makeup that has positioned it as the company that always hires “the best of the best.” They are one of few companies who have can position themselves with that sort of image and get away with it. This concept may translate well to some personal brands. If you have experience that you think puts you a cut above your peers, it may pay off for you to incorporate that in to your brand image.
Goldman Sachs has a strict policy of not commenting on pending legal issues – often also choosing to settle legal disputes out of court to avoid the publicity. Think about this type of policy when discussing previous/current employment. Everyone has bad work experiences, but bad mouthing can get you in to trouble. You don’t want to sabotage your image by having too much of a silver tongue.
There’s no “I” in team
One thing that any Goldman employee will tell you is that they have a culture of teamwork. There is no “I” in team, and you’re expected to be honest and ethical in your work. Some have even been rewarded for escalating their mistakes rather than being scolded for making them, because they did what was best for their team. Every brand can benefit from honesty and integrity.
Help me help you
Goldman Sachs has one of the most revered management training programs in its industry with a wide-spanning network of alumni. People there really know how to help each other out, because they all have the same goal in mind – success. You can extend your brand and build its credibility by being helpful to others. Remember, every new relationship can have its advantages.
With recent coverage in the press, Goldman Sachs may not be able to keep its revered brand image in-tact. Its typical M.O. doesn’t seem to be cutting it lately, and that may force the brand to adopt some new strategies. Every brand needs to be able to adapt to a changing environment.
David Trahan is currently working at leading social marketing agency Mr Youth in New York, and previously held positions with the Ad Council, Goldman Sachs and others. He is a recent graduate of Pace University where he received many scholarships and awards including the Co-op & Career Services Experiential Award. David is now a mentor in the Alumni Mentor Program and also serves as a member of the AD Club of NY Young Professionals Steering Committee. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.