Reputation is Your Brand

“Employers and business leaders need people who can think for themselves – who can take initiative and be the solution to problems.” ~ Stephen Covey

People Buy From People They Trust road sign

Years ago I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In one chapter, author Stephen Covey asks readers to envision their own funeral. He asks you to think about what people in the room are saying about you.

We all hope that the words will be kind. It’s not a morbid exercise; it encourages us to really think about reputation and legacy.

Covey’s exercise is a good one for businesses, too. How would people describe your company’s reputation? What would they say is the reason to interact with your company? When you have their answers, you have, in a nutshell, what people think your brand is.


How do people form their perceptions of your brand? Many things go into creating a brand – promotion, corporate responsibility, and probably one of the most important is employees.

Consider two brands – Best Buy and Disney. Both are in the business of serving the public, one through consumer products and the other through entertainment. Both have worked hard to establish and maintain their brands. But one, according to Business Insider Magazine, is considered by corporate executives to be among the worst brands, while the other is ranked among the top 20 best brands globally.

The difference between the two is in how their leaders have inspired and enlisted their employees to build and protect their brands. At Disney, every employee – from the park attendants to the ABC news crews – get that they work for a global company and that all of their actions reflect upon Disney’s reputation. Their loyalty is nurtured and they are empowered to satisfy customers. Executives invest time, energy and money into making sure everyone feels they are part of the “cast” and understands expectations of representing Disney.

Recent hurricane Harvey, which devastated parts of Houston and surrounding communities, threw a blow at Best Buys’ brand, as well. During the storm, one Houston Best Buy store found itself fodder for Twitter. When a picture was posted of packs of bottled water being sold for $30 to $50, it went viral. A company spokesperson said that this pricing was a “big mistake” on the part of a few employees at the store, but the damage was done. The picture appeared on all mainstream media and negative perceptions were solidified.

Invest in Employees

Companies spend billions of dollars on advertising in order to convince you that they are the best at what they do. However,  advertising will never have the impact that the action of one single employee – for good and for bad – can have. Too often an investment isn’t made into ensuring that employees can be ambassadors for their employers.

Armed with the right training and support, employees will be one of the most valuable tools you’ll have to build a brand.

Sign It!

“I have finally perfected my signature. It took hours of practicing… I decided early on just to write Pippa, not Middleton.” ~ Pippa Middleton


There is a free and effective marketing tool that requires almost no effort, and you use it every day. In fact, it’s right there at your fingertips.

Imagine this:

email signature

Include contact information on all emails.

You’ve sent out an important follow-up email to a potential customer who you’ve been courting for months. The recipient is on vacation, but has been awaiting the email from you, so she assured you she would regularly check her smartphone. When she gets your message, she wants to talk with you directly to approve moving ahead.

She scrolls to the bottom of the message, and there’s no contact information. None! It’s likely she’s not going to go to the trouble of tracking your phone number down while sitting on the beach watching her kids play in the water. So, now she will wait, and probably get caught up in her vacation plans, and the green light you’ve been waiting for is stuck on red.

Easy Tool

Never underestimate the importance of an email signature. It’s essential for contact purposes, and it’s one of the easiest tools you have to market your company and yourself.

Email signatures are easily set up and can to be automatically added to every email you create. A signature should contain your name, phone numbers (office and cell), and website at a minimum. But, they also can include things like your logo, social media channels (personal and business), certifications, and your blog. Whatever online tools you have to market yourself are options for inclusion, too.

If you’re going to include social media, and professional accreditations, don’t forget to utilize the badges and icons they make available for your use. They’re easily added to signatures and can link directly to your pages.

Make It Memorable

Personalize your signature! Don’t be afraid to include something that makes your email signature memorable.

Every email you send, even your replies, is an opportunity to market your company. Not only does the intended recipient read your emails, but some are forwarded to others, who also have exposure to your thoughts, ideas, and – you’ve got it – your email signature!

You never know what will prompt someone to have a sudden interest in learning more about you and your company. Why not make it effortless for them?

“We Need a New Brand”

Branding means everything

Don’t confuse marketing terms

I have heard “We need a new brand” from more than one executive in my 30+ -year career, and the little voice inside my head keeps saying: “Why? Does your company have such a bad reputation that it’s worth blowing the whole thing up? Do you realize what it takes to build a brand from scratch?”

After I dig beneath the surface with a few probing questions, I soon understand what I had suspected all along. It’s not the brand that needs to be new, it’s a logo, or a marketing campaign, or even a website!

Therein lies the confusing question: What do people mean when they use the word, brand?

Now, don’t beat yourself up for not knowing the exact meaning of brand. We marketers, like so many other professionals, have our own jargon. If you don’t know what those words and phrases are, it can be very confusing and you may resort to the one word that seems to encompass it all – brand.

To help you along, here’s a short list of terms that can help you figure out what those marketing pros are saying and what you need them to know:

  • Brand: An overarching feel, look and essence of a company.
  • Identity: Another word for brand.
  • Logo: A visual (graphic) representation associated with a company.
  • Tagline: A written expression – generally only a few words – used to convey further understanding of a company and its brand.
  • Marketing Plan: An internal document, driven by the company’s strategic goals/initiatives, that outlines marketing goals, strategies and promotional activities.
  • Campaign: A promotional effort (generally advertising and/or public relations) that is associated with a strategy within a marketing plan. It has a beginning and an end.
  • Advertising: Paid promotion.
  • Public relations: Unpaid or earned promotion.
  • Social Media: Promotion (paid and unpaid) through websites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…
  • Digital marketing: Promotion delivered on computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.
  • Collaterals: Printed materials, like brochures, direct mailers, and stationery.
  • Content: Words, pictures, videos, etc…
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization, which in basic terms means getting your website recognized and ranked high on search engines like Google and Bing.