The most important thing you can do to secure your success as a business is to build a robust brand. The second is to try not to kill it in the process…
A strong brand helps you build trust, differentiate you from competitors and attract and retain more engaged employees. So if you’re like most businesses, it’s not something you want to jeopardise.
Here are 5 things that could ruin your reputation and send you nosediving into the brand scrapheap:
- Referring to your business as a ‘market leader’
Let’s look at an actual definition of ‘market leader’:
‘A market leader could be a product, brand, company, organisation, group name which has the highest percentage of total sales revenue of a particular market.’ (The Economic Times)
If that’s the case, how can so many companies describe themselves as market leaders? Apple is a market leader. Microsoft is a market leader. Most small to medium businesses, we would guess, are probably not. Claiming to be bigger than you are will wreak havoc on your credibility and brand, so best keep to the facts; what do you offer that makes you different to your competitors?
- Calling yourself an ‘expert’
These days so many people use the word ‘expert’ or ‘thought leader’ in reference to themselves that it has come to mean virtually zip. Talking about yourself is a sure fire way to turn people off to your brand, however you phrase what you’re saying. It’s much more effective to show people you’re an expert than it is to tell them. So why not demonstrate your expertise in helpful blog articles and contribute your thoughts and tips to online discussions? Or, if you can’t resist singing your praises, let your clients do it for you by featuring their endorsements on your website.
- Sitting on the fence
In an effort to make everyone like you, it can be easy to sit on the fence rather than risk giving an opinion, but being open about where you sit on controversial issues (within reason) is a valuable way to reinforce your brand values, connect with your audience and get your voice heard. Sharing your views can make you seem more human and could be just the thing that makes someone choose to do business with you over your rivals. Just make sure you express yourself in a respectful and diplomatic way – blatant disregard for others’ opinions will do more damage than having no opinion at all.
- Being too slow to respond to the media
When it comes to the best timeline for responding to media queries, there’s no such thing as ‘too soon’. If you can’t address a journalist or broadcaster’s query immediately or need to clear some facts before sending your response, then send a polite and friendly acknowledgement so they know you’re on the case. If you’re too slow, one of your competitors will beat you to it and you’ll miss a valuable opportunity to raise your profile. And if you don’t reply at all, you’ll most likely be written off with all the other invisible and unhelpful brands.
We worked with a client some years back who when we contacted them regarding a national PR opportunity in a leading trade magazine that we had secured for them, they weren’t exactly quick to reply.
In fact, we made a point of informing them we had a window of just four hours to turn the copy around and any later than that would see the opportunity lost.
The client still took their time and it wasn’t until the following day that they got back to us to give us the go-ahead, by which time the media window had closed.
Said client was rather agitated with us – for some reason unbeknownst to us they assumed that because they were a market leader then the media would hold the presses until the client was ready.
This not only saw them waste a brilliant chance for national exposure, it made them look arrogant in the eyes of the media in question and it right royally pissed us off too. We’re in the business of PR and if we work our butts off to create media opportunities for a client and that client scuppers them, they’re not the sort of client we want to work with. In this instance, we terminated the contract with said client.
- Using cringe-worthy language
Commenting on and sharing interesting articles via social media is a great way to engage with your audience and build a loyal online following. But being overly complimentary or affectionate can give your brand an air of falseness and, let’s be frank, it’s just plain embarrassing. Trust and authenticity is vital in sustaining positive perceptions of your brand, so language that’s genuine and professional is far more likely to help you maintain your reputation.
Ultimately, there are numerous things that can ruin a previously impeccable reputation. If you want to avoid killing yours, there’s one simple question you can ask yourself: ‘does what I’m doing fit with my brand values?’ If the answer’s no, change it.