What does your personal brand say?

Allan Johnson of Johnson & Tennent Chartered Accountants
Allan Johnson of Johnson & Tennent Chartered Accountants Janie Kayes

Take a look at the entertainment headlines today - you'd be hard-pressed to not see a celebrity engaging in some form of furthering their 'personal brand'. Some of these brands are carefully crafted - take the Kardashian klan, for example (and if you don't know who that is, go and Google them!). Every single thing these Kardashians do is carefully controlled as to portray a specific image to the world - and it works for them. So, why should your approach to your personal brand be left to chance?

Many years ago, I was stressing about a performance review which was to be conducted on the past five years of my academic career. A veteran of the process counselled me to the effect that as long as I 'kept my nose clean' for the year prior to the review, nobody would remember how bad I was for the first four years!

This was a valid strategy twenty years ago (not that I was that bad!), but unfortunately today it would be a different matter. The pervasiveness of social media and online activities means that there is a continuous archiving of your past behaviours (your personal brand), easily accessed at the click of a button.

As a business owner, you should at the very least be aware of what is out there with regards to your personal brand - if you're not actively taking steps to maintain or improve it. It is possible to establish a Google Alert to notify you when information containing a keyword (e.g. your name, your business) is mentioned on the Internet, in a blog, newspaper article or something else. There are similar features in most major social media applications.

By being warned, you are in a position to decide whether the mention is good, bad or indifferent, and then take action to protect your personal brand. While you're at it, you might like to establish an alert for your competitors. There are no rules against it, and if they're doing something right, you should know about it!

Like most things in business, you need to do this well, so you are faced with a choice. Learn how to do it really well, or work smarter, not harder - outsource to an expert. It is better if this type of activity is part of your overall marketing plan to maintain consistency and authenticity. You need to ensure that you outsource the function to someone who understands your local business and is willing to work with you to build your personal brand into something that can benefit your business.

Your personal brand could potentially make or break your business - if you claim to run a 'family friendly' business but are seen in inappropriate situations, it can be a public relations nightmare. You can be hailed or hung in social media!

The bottom line is - be careful what you post online. Once something is out there, it's very hard to take back, and could haunt your business activities for a long time to come.

Topics:  allan johnson branding opinion small business

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