Whether you are aware of it or not, you not only have a product to sell, you have a brand represented in the marketplace. Any idea what I am referring to? Yup, YOU. You are your own brand. And regardless of whether you have worked for a company for 10, 15 or even 40 years, or aspire to be the next greatest entrepreneur, you've got to protect and promote your brand. Brand defined -- A brand is the public's perception of your company, product or service, including the messages you are sending out to the world. In the case of You, Incorporated, the public is reading and judging your messages daily, hourly and sometimes minute by minute (think Social media and twitter feed). How would you like your brand represented?
Social media is just one channel that people will use to receive information about your brand. When I was a kid, my mom would say (I'm paraphrasing here), "Show me your friends and I will show you who you are." So why is your brand so important? Does your brand build you up or does it tear you down. If you want a chance to get that big promotion at work, are you even considered in the running? You might be a great worker, always ahead of deadline and under budget on projects, but if your personal habits includes late night parties and Red Solo Cup pictures on Facebook, maybe they will pass you up for the promotion if the other guy is not quite the party animal. Represent your brand as if your reputation counted on it, because it does.
Here is a list of 7 things that can help promote or pummel your brand name. I encourage you to work hard at getting a 5 star review.
"You are what you share." -- C.W. Leadbetter
Social Media - Social posts including those on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and others can be social nightmares if you use them without caution. Last night's Solo Cup moment is today's water cooler conversation. Want to put your brand in the dumper quickly, act like a fool and post it on social media. And just know that you aren't the only one that's taking the pictures.
Phone Calls - As simple a thing as it is to do, I never can figure out for the life of me why someone would not return their phone calls. The process is fairly simple. I have a question, so I call you. You have the answer, so you call me back. If you are too busy to call me back, can you shoot me an email or text saying, "Got your message, can't chat right now, call you soon." Unreturned phone calls will harm your reputation and your brand faster than you can say, "Ma Bell."
"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said." -- Peter Drucker
Emails - What's the point of having an in box if you never empty it? Get rid of spam first, then prioritize the rest. Answer each email and provide answers to each of the questions you have been asked. If you answer only 3 of the 5 questions you are asked, you are going to get another email. Being unresponsive to your emails harms your brand.
Text and Instant Messages - We are in a business climate today where people want answers immediately. Text messages carry a sense of urgency and must be handled quickly. There are plenty of third party apps available that will auto-respond for you if you cannot quickly reply. If you are prone to long meetings and times when immediate response is not possible, set proper expectations with anyone that has access to text and IM you. A sure way to frustrate others and harm your brand is not responding to text messages.
Promises Kept - "I'll send that proposal right over." or "I'll get back to you in five minutes." or "I'll meet you at 11am." These are not just expressions, these are commitments that you make everyday. Keep them or be considered a liar. I hate to make it sound so harsh but if you consistently make promises you can't keep, people with learn to expect the worst from you. If you make a promise, keep it. Keep your brand 100% true by keeping your promises 100% done.
"It seems the big winners are ethically flawed or maybe just more focused on sales rather than acting as a true advisor to clients. " -- Brad McCosker
Teamwork - Is the perception that your business is more important than everyone else's? Even the big boss at an organization should make his staffers feel as though they are important players in the game. Don't be so focused on being Number One that you step in Number Two. Regardless of your position at work or the amount of money you have in the bank, stay humble, relatable and human. Real people love to deal with real people. Human to human.
Attitude - Stinkin' thinkin' will make you the go nowhere guy that no one wants to be around. You will need people to help you build a business, build relationships and build a life. It is in the best interest of your brand to keep your negative thoughts to yourself. Find someone in your life that will not judge you and agree with each other that every once in a while you both will need a good brain dump. Even positive people have negative thoughts. Protect your brand and find a safe zone to take them to.
"Remember, your brand is not what you say it is, it's what THEY say it is."-- Marty Newmeier, The Brand Gap
These 7 areas are important because life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at you. You may have a solid job today, but there is always a chance your company might be gone tomorrow. I can remember working for a restaurant back in the mid-1980's. One day I showed up for work and the restaurant doors were chained. And if you don't think that can happen to you, think again. Multi-billion dollar companies can shut their doors overnight, leaving you unemployed in the wake of their financial ruins. In 2007 and 2008 the economy took a nose dive, seemingly overnight. Don't be shortsighted and think that it can't happen again. Cherish the fact that you are 100% in control of your brand because you are 100% in control of your behavior. They say there is no such thing as bad press. Keep your brand clean, reputable and positive and even the supermarket tabloids won't be able to touch you.
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