Long ago, building a brand was much simpler. A company had at least one physical store, and could create a warm and welcoming first impression. Ads were designed to reflect the values and views of the company. Word of mouth was the biggest variable, but even then improving the ads and overall shopping experience was enough to counter the occasional mishap. Personal branding wasn’t much different.
Whether you choose to build an online presence or not, your personal brand is likely to be affected by the accessibility of the internet. Word of mouth has been transformed by the proliferate blogs and sites out to spread their view to others. These platforms reach significantly more people than the most social customer of the past ever could. Managing your online reputation to reflect your brand’s image can be a difficult undertaking.
Verify Brand Values
The first step in tackling your reputation is to get specific about your mission. Develop a mission statement if you haven’t already, and really define what image you want to be recognized for. Letting the internet shape your brand’s image isn’t going to work out as well as you would like. Everything you’ve done online is essentially immortalized, making a fresh start nearly impossible. Defining in specific terms what you stand for will outline decisions that align with those values.
Search & Compare
Next, scour the internet for traces of your name and analyze whether they reflect your personal brand. The most common starting place is Google, though Bing and Yahoo are good resources as well. Look for references in any forums or social sites you might use and branch outward from there. Be sure to make a list so you can prioritize those most damaging ahead of trivial mentions.
Social media trends and even client feedback can be just as powerful to build or damage your image. Though you can’t stop people from sharing their opinions, you can note the difficulties to overcome on these platforms to improve their impressions.
If what you find online doesn’t give a very good impression, work to improve your overall online image. Remove images on social media that may be less than savory, for example. Remove any posts that a prospective client or employee may find objectionable 0r derogatory. In short, if your online reputation is less than pleasant, it’s time to clean it up.
Creating a personal brand can be challenging, but necessary to establishing a brand that reflects your values. Ignoring your online reputation can cause some serious harm to the business you are trying to build. Make reputation management a regular focus to keep your mission loud and clear.