BY DAVID MCKNIGHT
Your brand is the collection of images that you present to the world over time. It is a continuum of images that reflects your authentic self.
If I come to work one day looking clean and well-dressed, but show up the next day unshaven and unkempt, my brand will not be consistent. However, if I am consistently punctual, ethical, well-dressed, well-groomed and friendly, colleagues and clients will come to identify me with those attributes. This will create a consistent brand. Friendly, punctual and well-dressed becomes my brand.
A positive brand can’t be established or enhanced overnight. It takes time. But even the most carefully crafted and well-loved brand can be destroyed in an instant.
Manage Your Brand
Consider the case of Tiger Woods: Tiger created a highly-prized brand based on an image that personified what Americans most admire in their athletes – talent, hard work and achievement harnessed to humility and “squeaky clean” values. This brand helped Tiger earn millions of dollars in product endorsements. Sadly, Tiger destroyed the brand overnight when it was revealed that he was a serial adulterer. Tarnished almost beyond redemption, Tiger’s brand will never be what it was – no matter how hard his marketing team tries to rehabilitate it.
We all have an image. We all have a brand. The key is not just to establish an image or brand, but to manage it.
Each and every day, employees are hired and fired, promoted and demoted, rewarded and punished, and friended or unfriended based on perceptions about their brands. Although it’s true that smart, hard-working employees get laid off in tough economic times, the first to be fired are often perceived as lackluster. All things being equal, management usually fires the “slackers” and the “second-stringers” first; not the “premium brands.” The latter are only terminated when the firm’s circumstances become desperate.
Because our brand is established over many years, enhancing the brand requires us to carefully assess what’s working, and what’s not. It also requires us to perform a thorough assessment of where we are today, where we want to go, and how to get from here to there. Long-term image enhancement cannot be achieved through instant makeovers because it takes time and careful effort to fashion an image that “syncs” with your authentic self.
What is your brand? How would someone else describe your brand?