Are You a Brand Killer? Daily Decisions That Can Harm You & Your Company

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Best Buy, HP and American Airlines have all taken a hit on their brands this year.

Why? Ruthless price pressures, the third CEO in less than two years, and Chapter 13, just to name a few. These companies and others have faced complex challenges that have hurt their brands in 2012.

If you aren’t a top executive it can seem like someone else’s job to build a brand, but we all have an impact on our company’s – and our own individual – brand in little ways every day. And social media lets any of us easily become a commentator on any brand.

Yet, do we care about some customers more than others? There may be a double standard if we are up in arms when the advertised merchandise is late or the customer service number wait time is too long, but yawn when other potential customers have a terrible experience.

All-too-familiar situations

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You interviewed some great candidates for the new position, but decided to hold before filling the job. Though you had good intentions, you never followed up with the candidates to let them know. “That’s how recruiting works – candidates have to understand that things change.”
  • You made a candidate wait for months to learn if they would receive an offer. They eventually gave up and went to a competitor. “We have a very consensus oriented process – we are always slow to decide.”
  • You hired a talented team member, but it wasn’t a good fit. You surprised him by offering an exit package with no advanced communication of problems. “This was just easier and quicker than managing a graceful exit.
  • You met with two consulting groups who spent time creating new ideas on how to approach your new initiative. You decided to handle it internally, but never communicated the final decision to the consultants – even though they followed up with you several times. “They are vendors – they are used to this.”
  • You were supposed to speak at an industry forum, but had to cancel at the last minute because of a conflict. They asked if you could help find a replacement given the late notice, but you were too busy to help out. “Unfortunately, there’s no time to honor all of the extras – they’ll come up with something.”
  • A guest visited your office and had to wait for an hour to see you. “My boss called with a problem and she takes priority – it was a favor to even fit him in given my crazy schedule.”

Everyone is a potential customer

You get the idea. You represent your brand every day, all day.

We recently met a potential client at their request. We spent a lot of time with them building out their idea. But, when it was time for their decision, they cancelled a meeting after we were already on site and we had to wait for a long time on the two prior visits.

They then rescheduled a call six times after we juggled schedules to accommodate. We concluded that they weren’t a good match for us. But, I couldn’t help but think that a few minutes and some small courtesies would have kept them looking professional and kept us enthusiastic for their brand. They never connected that we were possible customers too.

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The people you interact with are all potential customers for your business or you in the future. After they meet you or your company – regardless of outcome or reason – do they leave thinking that you are a company or individual they want to work with? Recommend to others? Or become a customer?

Much has been written about Brand You, Tom Peters’ take on how to be the CEO of Me, Inc. by building your reputation and living your values. You build your personal brand one day at a time, person by person.

So, before you think of a brand as the work of the advertising people or corporate – remember the faces you come in contact with every day. You are leaving an impression with them about you and your company’s brand that they’ll take with them and share with others.

Make it count.

This was originally published on PeopleResult’s Current blog.

Patti Johnson is the CEO of PeopleResults, a change and organizational development consulting firm she founded in 2004. She is the author of newly released "Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work and in Life." Patti and her team advise clients such as PepsiCo, Microsoft, 7-Eleven, Accenture, Frito-Lay and many others on creating positive change in their leaders and organizations. Previously a Senior Executive at Accenture. Patti is an instructor on change for SMU Executive Education and for the Bush Institute Women’s Initiative, as well as a keynote speaker on change and leadership.


7 Comments on “Are You a Brand Killer? Daily Decisions That Can Harm You & Your Company

  1. A friend recently told me how he was one of 3 final candidates for a senior level job at a global 100 company. He was flown to HQ and had rounds and rounds of interviews. Months later, he hasn’t heard a peep. Remarkable. While it didn’t impact me directly, in my mind, that’s a damaged brand.

    1. Marta, I hear stories like this all of the time. It is so amazing that a brand is so protected in some situations and not a factor in others.  Thanks for your comments.

  2. Amen. And beyond potential employees and clients, every company needs to remember that current employees and alumni all have the potential wave the brand flag (or burn it, as the case may be).

  3. That Sting song, “Every Move You Make” is running through my brain now. It’s true, someone is always watching so it’s a good reminder to be mindful of how you behave and what you say and how it impacts your personal brand as well as the company you’re representing.

  4. How many times have we all said “it’s such a small world!” We constantly network/interact with individuals and never know when or how we may run into them again. A former consultant may turn up being your next interviewer!

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