7 Ways to Build a Formidable Brand

It can take years to build a great reputation and only minutes for something or someone to destroy it. And sometimes what destroys a brand can be well outside your personal control. It’s the former employee who is out for vengeance on Facebook and Twitter or it’s the competitor who created a new product that makes yours obsolete. It’s time to start thinking of your brand as a living and breathing organism that must be carefully watched and protected at all costs.

So the question is, what can you do to protect your brand?

1. Manage your online reputation. At the very least, set up Google alerts with your company name and personal name. For example, I have one set up for Seroka, the name of our company, and another for Scott Seroka. Every day I see what, if anything, is being said about my name or my company. Setting up these alerts will afford you the ability to react quickly if there is an opportunity or an issue requiring your immediate attention. And immediate action must be taken, especially when there is something out there threatening your reputation. For brand and reputation insurance, consider a crisis communication plan so that you and everyone in your company will know how to react to the unfortunate unforeseen.

2. Claim everything! This includes sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, SlideShare, and every other site where you can register, even if you don’t intend to be active on all of them. Why? There are evil people who have beat brands to the punch and taken control of the brand’s online presence, or at least a piece of it. Once your name is taken, it’s taken. The end. And one more thing: Buy your personal domain name – it’s dirt cheap, and you may want it for something someday (e.g. www.firstnamelastname.com)

3. Once you complete Step 2, post regularly and frequently to select sites. Customers expect it, and they will also appreciate it – especially if you post great content. Don’t post just to post. Make sure what you post is timely, relevant, meaningful, and, of course, interesting.

4. Focus on goodwill. Be where your customers are in the communities you serve. Sponsor events; make sure your name appears here and there as a donor or contributor to worthy causes. Get involved in your local chamber of commerce, or start a cause of your own. Be as visible as possible when you can and where you can, within reason.

5. Help others get what they want. This is one of those principles graduates of Dale Carnegie learned. You must first give before you can expect to receive. Become known for your generosity and ability to bring people together who will benefit from a relationship. This is one of the best ways to be remembered.

6. Be seen. Make appearances often, and join groups where you have opportunities to get to know people and for people to get to know you. Volunteer often.

7. Promote yourself shamelessly. Make sure to stay current and be current. One of the most effective ways to promote yourself is to author a book or – if a book is not realistic for you – a blog. Your goal here is to be a thought leader – someone people have a reason to listen to and follow.
The common denominator here is to take control of your reputation, your brand. It will lead to infinite opportunities and will minimize the impact of something going wrong. Don’t be the brand that only appears when there is bad news.