4 Tips for Avoiding Brand Suicide

By: Michele Thompson

Brand Power.

Have you noticed how the word “branding” is everywhere? There is employer branding, personal branding, executive branding, corporate branding. As an entrepreneur, you’ve not only got to build your corporate brand but just as important your personal brand.   Because your brand, or reputation, is a valuable asset in today’s tight market, here are a few tips to help you avoid committing brand suicide.

There have been some pretty famous brand failures.

Never, ever, ever lie.  Like the theme music from the 1800 Contacts commercials reminds us, “don’t do it.”  The Internet is a universal lie detector, and eventually, all lies will be revealed. Little white lies, exaggerations, and misrepresentations can be as destructive as big lies.

A no-brainer, right? Obviously not, because people are always making news about careers that are ruined because someone exaggerates excessively about something in their background.

You may remember the high–profile MIT admissions dean who incorporated just enough untruths in her résumé to undo her career. And of course, a Notre Dame football coach gained notoriety when his résumé lies were uncovered. And the latest tombstone to make national front-page news is the Dinner: Impossible chef. His goose was overcooked. Just imagine the gruesome details that would be associated with a senior–level finance executive. Remember the TV show, the “Untouchables”?

What does your technology IQ say about your brand?

Don’t hang with the dinosaurs. Get online the right way. Are you on the business networking sites? Social networking sites? Does a complete profile show up in the big name aggregator sites? Do you even know what they are?

If you have an AOL address and believe it stands for America Online, think again. The new definition of AOL in the tech-savvy (and that includes recruiters) world is Amateurs Online.

When you have stayed cutting edge with the fast-paced technology trends, age becomes less of an issue. Are you conveying that you embrace technology … or are you going the way of the T–Rex?

No brand is the same as a bad brand. 

Having no brand it not good.  It’s just like having no credit is the same as bad credit.  If there is no visible and credible evidence you exist, you might as well live in a hole. Recent Pew polls reflect that the number of people who Google someone before meeting them (and that includes recruiters and hiring managers before and after an interview) has more than doubled over the last three years. That means any Google search on your name needs to send a consistent message around your clear and compelling brand. Anything less is akin to committing career suicide.

You might be “the” ideal candidate, but if no one knows about you what difference does it make? If you have a concise and captivating brand that is consistently in the face of your target market, new opportunities can always be coming your way.


Clean Your Digital Dirt.

You can either vacuum it up or sweep it under the rug. It is easiest to start with the content resides on your sites. Check your social media profiles for incriminating images and critical comments. Even rudeness and rudeness. Your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter statuses can cost you big.  Whether it’s a new customer or even your job.

If you still want to keep all your content as-is, then lock your privacy. Change the settings so that only people in your inner circle can see them. Otherwise friends of friends and the general public can and will peek inside.

Digital dirt doesn’t evaporate or disintegrate.

If you’ve ever walked away from a great interview and the relationship with a recruiter and the interviewer suddenly went ice cold, Google yourself. It just might provide the answer. Same holds true with that incredible sales pitch that landed the deal and suddenly your client came down with buyers remorse.

Your Digital Footprint Matters.

Whether we like it or not, everyday we are online, most of us contribute to a growing database of who we are online and its probable more public than we’d like for it to be.  There are only two options for cleaning up digital dirt, and ignoring it is not one of them. Remember, a prospective company or a recruiter can also find any dirt that is found in a Google search by you. And that dirt can trump even the best interview because that dirt is out there for public view, and it may be detrimental for a company to bring your dirt in their house.

Even if you win your case or if something was found untrue, you can be finished if you don’t clean it up. For many, the reputational issue is much worse than it used to be.

Why Personal Brands Are for Everyone

You can not afford to ignore your brand anymore. Social media alone has changed the game.  Everything is instant and permanent. You can not afford to ignore your brand anymore. Social media alone has changed the game.  Everything is instant and permanent. You can no longer ignore this change or the impact it has on your brand.  It will place you at a serious disadvantage with the competition.

Branding isn’t a passing phase. It is a trend that continues to drive hiring decisions. While a strong value proposition can win the interview, a clear and compelling brand gets the offer or contract because your personal brand tells how you do what you do, speaking directly to culture fit. Your brand is intimately connected to your value proposition, even if you don’t realize it.