I don't remember who said it, but I recall a quote that goes something like this, "You can spend 10 years building a brand's reputation and have it destroyed in 5 minutes."
Sucks, don't it? (That was said in a hick accent, incase you couldn't tell!)
But for real, your brand is what people think about your business. More importantly, it's how they FEEL when they think about your business. If people feel icky, turned off, annoyed or ---insert all other negative adjectives here-- then that's obviously NOT a good thing! Especially if you've worked really hard to build a trustworthy, totally kick butt brand. I've said it once (or a billion times), and I'll say it again; YOU are your brand. Aren't you worth protecting? (Pssssst, say yes! It's the only answer that I'll accept right now. I'm feeling feisty.)
So. Just like it's super important to build an awesome brand, it's equally important to protect it! (And if you need help in creating your brand, feel free to check out this post on 10 steps to create a kick-ass brand!) Now go grab yourself your favorite beverage and let's dive right in, shall we? Here's 8 tips to protect your brand!
1. Do a quarterly review on ... yourself.
If your brand is YOU, then it only makes sense to do a quarterly review on yourself, right? (Again, I'm feeling feisty today and "yes" is the only answer that I'll accept right now!) Over time people change, new habits are formed and new passions emerge. If you're constantly evolving as a human being, then you want to make sure that you're staying inline with your brand (i.e. how you want people to think of and feel about you/your business!) Therefore you should make this little thinking review a part of your business routine every 3 months are so. (It might feel weird at first but it's actually pretty fun and you might learn some things about yourself!)
2. Do a Brand audit every 3 -6 months.
Does the word "audit" send a shiver down your spine too? For me, the word "audit" and "taxes" go hand in hand, and the word "taxes" makes me want to take a big barf all over my keyboard! (Gross visual? Sorry.) But basically, doing a brand audit is when you sit down and take stock of everything that composes your brand (like your website, your copy, your photos, all printed materials, etc.) and you make sure that everything is clear, strong and AWESOME. (And also looks/feels how you actually WANT your brand to look and feel.) I won't babble about it too much here because I've already written this post on how to audit your brand! (So check it out and dooooo it every 3 - 6 months!) Also, you can enroll in my Strong Brand mini course for free if you'd like to make sure that your brand is strong, consistent and totally awesome!
3. Check that you are 'being your brand' regularly.
By this I mean, if some one saw you in public, would you be accurately representing your brand? Things like what you wear, how you act, how you speak etc. Now ... I'll be the first to admit that I regularly do things like running errands NOT accurately representing my brand (i.e. unshowered and in my sweatpants while looking like a total train wreck!) No, my brand is NOT supposed to be disheveled and unshowered, but I'll admit some times that I am. Hehehe. EHEM! However, I DO regularly put in the effort to accurately represent my brand! Especially when in front of clients, at events, going to places where my ideal customer would hang out (like particular coffee shops), etc. Get my drift?
4. Get regular feedback from people once or twice a year.
Yep, put this in your yearly calendar! If your brand is what people think of and feel about your business, then what better way to figure out if your brand is staying clear and strong than by asking the people who interact with it? So once or twice a year, make it a point to ask friends, family, coworkers, clients and other creatives what they think/feel about your brand. (And don't forget to thank them for providing feedback!) If what they tell you is completely out of whack with what you are wanting, then you know it's time for a brand overhaul, baby!
5. Be active and engage with followers on social media.
I think the best brands are the ones that feel human and authentic. If a brand feels like an impersonal, sleazy, money-thirsty corporation then it's a complete turn off! (In my not-so-humble opinion.) By being active and engaging with followers on social media (preferably for a little bit every day), you can humanize your brand, allow people to connect with you and grow your network! When you take the time to interact with people you are protecting your brand by constantly reinforcing their feelings and opinions of you. It's like ... you want people to be able to see "the man behind the curtain," IF you know what I mean!
6. Always be aware of new trends.
Things change SO BLOODY FAST. And if you're not paying attention to things like new technology, your ideal client's behavior and new trends then you're bound to get left behind!!!! In the dust. Yes ... you will be covered in a thick, brownish colored layer of dust. Even your eyeballs. So don't let that happen, okay? Learn to embrace change. Hell ... learn to anticipate change!!! Last year, I resisted change in a particular area for a long time. More specifically, I ignored the new (and extremely important!) trend of pinning vertical images with text on Pinterest as opposed to horizontal ones. And you know what? I lost out on lots of traffic. My pins got left behind ... in the dust.
7. Keep a positive attitude when engaging with others.
No, you don't have to let others walk all over you or be a drippy, sappy, OMG I'M SO HAPPY person all of the time. But in general, unless you want negativity associated with your brand, try to remain positive while engaging with others. Especially on social media! All it takes is for you to publicly say ONE ultra shitty thing on social media to damage your brand's reputation. (Especially if people share that one shitty thing and it spreads like wild fire!) So ... as Smokey the Bear says ... "only YOU can prevent forrest fires." (Aka not saying shitty things that will spread around and damage your brand's reputation!)
8. Before you do anything, ask how it will impact other people's perception of you.
Before you post on social media, write a blog post, offer a product or go to the bathroom, ask yourself how what you're about to say or do will affect people's feelings about you (aka your brand.) It's kind of like "think before you speak," ya know? One of the best ways to do damage control with your brand is to prevent the damage in the first place!
So yeah ... take the time to protect yourself and your brand! I'M SUPER PASSIONATE ABOUT BRANDING SO JUST DO IT MMKAY?!
And now, I have a VERY important question: what food are you craving right now? Because I'm totally craving a warm, gooey grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup.