In the same manner as leading manufactures of phones, automobiles and clothing strive to create a unique and memorable brand; we too must establish our personal brands in the markets and sectors we operate in. These sectors are both professional and personal.
The bottom line for building a successful personal brand is integrity. This means that we succeed by being true to ourselves. It also means we live out what we state publically AND privately. We do what we say we will even when no one is watching.
The recent example of a corporate brand failure is Volkswagen. The manufacture’s false claims about meeting emission standards for their diesel vehicles has not only damaged the perception of those models; it is carried over to all their vehicles and other divisions. It calls into question their advertising, management team and has severely undermined the integrity of their brand. They will eventually recover, but it will take years and cost them billions to rectifying the problems, not to mention lost sales and customer loyalty over the next decade and beyond.
As humans we have developed intuitive fake detectors. The saying that “you can fool some people some of the time” is true to a point, however in today’s hyper connected and more transparent world, where a poor decision or misplaced word can be shared within seconds, can cause tremendous damage and a backlash from your customers, or colleagues, based on actions and decisions that lack integrity.
The sage words “to thine own self be true” are more important than ever. If your brand is to have integrity, you must strive to be honest in all your communication and supporting actions. Yes, this is tough. You have to decide if it’s worth it for you. Remember that what you elect to become will not only precede you, for better or worse, it will also be what you are remembered for, also for better or worse. Choose carefully and act accordingly.
You have a brand. Make sure yours is honest.