Five Non-Negotiable Ways to Create and Sustain a Positive Brand

By Sommer Vega
Executive Director, Pocket PR

I recently had a conversation with a Broadcast Journalist for one of Atlanta’s major networks about the evolution of the news industry. When he started in the business over 30 years ago, the tools for disseminating information were simple – a lead/news tip, a camera, and a computer. He was also granted a package time of two minutes – where he could truly dive into the contents of the interview and provide information to the audience that best communicates the current event.

Fast-forward into today, with technology advancements and news at the tips of our fingers, this broadcast journalist began to compete with the ever-ready “street journalist.” Now, with a smartphone in hand and a social media following, every person has the potential of becoming a source of information on just about any topic. Seasoned journalists no longer have time to nurse their packages to life, because the story may break on social media faster than their ability to edit footage. The two minutes worth of content has dwindled to 30 seconds and social media packaging is the new complement to the news on TV.

I left this conversation thinking – broadcast journalism is not the only industry affected by this evolution in our society. In fact, I would venture to say that it is true for any business or brand as well. Technology, specifically social media, has given everyone a platform to voice their opinions and broadcast their perspective on any subject matter, including your business.

So, this poses the question – How do you protect your business’ reputation?

Here are Five Non-Negotiable Ways to Create and Sustain a Positive Brand:

      1. Maintain Business Integrity – This may seem simple, but let’s face it …. the most important thing you can do to protect your brand is to be a business with value. Make sure your product or service is worth every penny spent by your customer. Go above and beyond to produce at your very best. This may mean taking an audit of your business as it relates to customer service and product excellence. I personally like to use the SWOT Analysis below as a tool to identify business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Answer the key questions listed under each quadrant to see if you have room for improvement. Then, make adjustments to ensure you have a quality product and are providing the best service. Knowledge alone isn’t power. APPLIED knowledge is power.
    1. Strategize Your Social Media Content – Posting content on social media should be done on purpose. Specifically, a posting calendar to include the nature and content of each post is beneficial to aligning your message with the current offerings of your business. This does not mean scheduling posts that constantly promote the business itself. This approach comes across “salesy” and can deter your desired audience. Instead, schedule a hard sale posting once a week and surround it with other amazing content. One simple way to get started is to refer to your events calendar and schedule posts that coincide with it. If you are just getting your business off the ground, start by scheduling inspirational insights, industry tips, and use curated content from other reputable sources. It is important to remember that social media is meant to be a two-way conversation. So, add in content that engages your audience; i.e. posing a question, creating a poll, highlighting new customers, etc.
    2. Consistently Update Your Digital Platforms – Updated content on your website, mobile app, online business profiles, and social media…. implies stability and credibility. Think about it, if you go to a website with information that is dated two years ago (or even two months ago), what is your first thought? Personally, I question if they are still in business. Even if you are working your business part-time, current information on a polished landscape gives a great first impression. Use the method of “chunking” this task to ensure that the job gets done. This means dedicating a specific time in your week to focus on updating all online data pertaining to your business. Do not multitask this with other priorities. Focus on this one thing, then move on to the next. Once I started “chunking” my tasks, I found that I attained more goals, and accomplished more with a higher level of efficiency.
    3. Face the Negativity Head-on – Hiding is the worst thing to do when faced with adversity. You have to gracefully run towards your pain-points. Whether it be a negative rating, disgruntle customer review, or a business crisis – you must face it. The best way to face it is pre-planning. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Work on your processes for protecting your business before you are presented with a challenge. For instance, if a customer is disgruntled and writes a negative review online, respond to the review with a tone of sympathy and resolution. It is better to be proactive vs. reactive when negative situations occur. The general public will form opinions of your business based upon their perception of it. Hopefully, you will never face a crisis; but it is still a good practice to have a written plan for handling one and communicating this plan to your employees.
    4. Guard Your Personal Brand – You are Your Business. As the saying goes “Big Brother is always watching;” or I’d like to say, “Your current and potential customers are always watching.” Your personal brand is the visualization of your professionalism. Every picture, posting, video, and digital interaction symbolizes who you are, where you have been, and where you strive to be in the future. I made a cognitive decision to be more discriminatory of the content attached to my name, because it has a direct relationship to my reputation, and my reputation directly affect the brand of my business. As a business owner, your personal brand should symbolize your core values and assets you bring to any professional relationship or organization.

Now, it’s time for you to take action. Start by selecting one of these items and focus on it. As always, should you need assistance or have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly. My passion is helping others strategize on ways to look their best; and therefore sustain a positive public image and gain respect in their areas of expertise.