Today, I want to share a few tips to help you protect your business brand.
A couple of months ago, my husband had surgery at a local hospital. While he was in surgery, I went to the cafeteria for lunch. While eating, I pulled out my laptop and started to work.
As I was working, I noticed some men sitting beside me. I had seen them earlier doing some electrical work at the hospital and didn’t think too much about it. You could tell they were waiting on their lunch break to go back to work. As I worked, I overheard their conversation. (It was hard not to, because they were pretty loud).
At first, they were talking about hunting and every day things. Then, I overheard the older gentleman at the table say “Look at that nurse over there,” and then proceed to say some very inappropriate things that bordered on sexual assault.
I was just sitting there in disbelief that someone would say that in public. Not only that, but while wearing shirts with the name of their business printed on them. I could tell the older gentleman was just waiting on the younger gentleman to affirm what he just said.
The younger gentleman seemed to agree, and they continued to go on and talk about very inappropriate things.
I spoke up and politely said “Excuse me, but I am highly offended by what you just said.”
Of course, the older man immediately said he was sorry.
I shared how I work in digital marketing and I would never refer anyone to their business after hearing what he said. He sat there dumbstruck.
He apologized again. They sat in silence and eventually started a new conversation.
As I sat there, I thought ‘Wow, this is killing their brand’.
I discreetly took a picture of the back on one of the men’s shirt. If I was spiteful, I could have gone to Twitter and posted the picture and made an ugly scene about the experience. That picture with the details of their conversation could ruin a small business.
At my next BNI meeting, I told the members that story and shared how they’ve got to protect their brand.
Here are some tips to protect your business brand:
- Prepare the people who represent your brand.
You must prepare them and let them know that when they are out, even on their lunch break, wearing their uniform they are representing your brand. If they say anything inappropriately, there will be consequences, not only to themselves and their jobs, but also to your business.
The way things are on digital media right now, if you post something like that, your business could be hung out to dry and kill your brand image. You have got to prepare the people that represent your brand to represent your brand well. Let them know what the consequences are. Set policies for the people that represent your brand. Also, reward them when you hear good feedback about your service providers.
- Remember you as a business owner directly represent your brand.
What you say online, directly or indirectly, can represent your brand.
People blur the lines on social media all their time, especially business owners. I have even been guilty of this. I like to talk about politics sometimes and that can get me in trouble. When I post about politics, I only let my friends that are my actual friends in real life see my Facebook posts, and do not open up my personal opinion to the world on certain subjects.
I know someone that sometimes uses her personal Facebook profile to promote her business. She was going through an ugly divorce and shared dirt on her ex-husband on her page.
If you have a business, potential customers don’t want to hear about your political opinions or the mud in your personal life. They want to know that you can be trusted.
Watch your personal brand online and how you post. (I’m preaching to the choir to myself.) You’ve go to realize that when people search for you as a business owner, your personal Facebook page will come up. They will be able to see whatever you and your friends have posted on your timeline.
This is the way I think about what I post online, even in my private groups. For anything I post, I think to myself:
“Am I willing to go on the Today Show the next morning and back up what I said or fight for this cause? Am I willing to go on national TV and advocate for or fight against it?”
That has kept me from posting things. Plus, you never know who could take a screenshot of what you post in “private” and make it public. Whatever you post, be prepared to back it up.
- Clean up your brand online.
I want to encourage you to do audit of your brand online. This is as simple as going into your Facebook stream and delete or hide things that do not represent your brand or that are not professional.
I might share pictures of our family beach trip, but I would not put a picture of myself in a bikini, (not that I would be in a bikini.) To me, that is counter to my brand. (Unless, I was in the fashion business and sold swimwear.) Even for family portraits, make sure that is what you want to represent your business online, directly or indirectly. Do a quick audit and take things down.
Go look at sites like Yelp and Google Local and see what people are saying about your brand. Do a Google search and see what has been said about your brand. Make sure you respond to those things, whether they are positive or negative. There are a lot of trolls out there putting negative stuff into opinion sites.
Even with the trolls, ask them publicly to send you a direct message or their phone number to follow up with them directly. With negative comments, you don’t want to get into a battle with someone online. Take those negative comments and respond to them and let others see that you are on top of it and you’re providing good customer service, even to people that give you negative comments.
To recap, these are my top 3 tips for protecting your brand.
- Your people represent your brand, so prepare them for that.
- What you say, directly and indirectly, represents your business brand.
- Clean up your brand online by doing a simple audit.