When the Going Gets Tough, Time to Brand Up!

boxing gloves 300x199 When the Going Gets Tough, Time to Brand Up!

Are you ready to fight for your personal brand?

Many brands on their top game suddenly find themselves in a truck full of brand trouble. A scandal, bad judgment, a legal mess, a tragic accident or the result of just taking your eye off the ball, the brand goes bad.

Beat up brands can recover.

I look at brands that have fought their way back from near folds and I’m always amazed at the resiliency and dedication I see. In my latest book, Brand Turnaround, I reveal the steps taken by persistent leaders who overcame major brand shake-ups. I call these seven key concepts Game Changers, and one of them is to not give up.

Seems like an easy enough concept, but how far are you really willing to go if your brand undergoes disastrous, brand-killing times? Do you have a plan? How can you ensure that you’ll persist? Can you handle the pressure and whatever hand you’re dealt—even if that means a trip to jail or a big fat market rejection?

People like Martha Stewart, Michael Vick and Arianna Huffington are proof of how to make the best of a bad situation. Without going into detail about all of their stories (you can find that in my new book, Brand Turnaround), they all have some common traits:

• Taking full responsibility for themselves
• Welcoming change and outside help
• Leveraging what they know
• Being completely honest and transparent
• Being resilient
• Employing a multi-touchpoint tool kit

Now put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve somehow got mixed up with the wrong crowd and ended up making a bad judgment call that lands you in the nightly news. You got a DUI and this time you’re going to jail instead of attending your company’s annual retreat. Your business partners might bail on you, the public may be against you or your employees lose confidence in you—so it’s time to come up with a plan for yourself.

First you must understand failure isn’t permanent. It’s a temporary event unless you choose to stay there. Even if you’ve let a bunch of people down, including yourself, regain your composure and find your inner strength. Yes, fear, anger and shame may feel like an eternal zone, but you can put an end to it—pick up the pieces to move forward.

Whether you’re sent to jail, your brand’s reputation suffered from bad judgment calls or a long series of rejections take you out of the game, stop feeling sorry for yourself, get a grip and take focused actions to change your course from loser to a top brand that people want to buy and associate with.

If you are incarcerated you will have plenty of time to reflect and come up with your plan. If you are still operating, but in a big depressed funk, carve out significant amounts of alone time to reflect, shake off the past and map out your recovery.

Have faith, whether that means, reading, meditating or going into your personal spiritual zone. Then visualize where you want to be.

Reverting to old patterns and ways will keep you in the nightmare. Resiliency will return you to glory and make dreams possible.

While you’re away physically or mentally, don’t let your brand die. This might mean temporarily stepping down in your head role. It’s okay to hire a leader to fill in for you or to trust one of your partners to take the reins while you get your life sorted out. Do whatever is best for your future brand. Do remember that the longer you ponder the further you are from brand recovery.

Once you are back in the game, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to advisors, business connections or professional firms who can help you reinvent or polish up your brand and reestablish trust with your markets. Leverage community outreach opportunities like volunteering or doing public speaking that relates to your new image or lessons you learned from the bad events that can aid others.

Be honest once you’re back in the limelight. Admit to what you did and explain the steps you’re taking to continue to make yourself a better person and a respected brand—and avoid making the same mistake again. Self-deprecation and being able to laugh at yourself could also work in your favor.

Reengage with the public. Even if your former fan club isn’t as solid as it once was, people liked you/your brand for a reason. Invite them to be a part of your new life by interacting with them via social media and being transparent about your intentions.

Establish new relationships with positive people. You may have lost some partnerships due to your temporary set back, but it doesn’t mean that no one will ever want to partner with you again. In fact, you may find that other successful people have made similar mistakes. Connect with them for advice and strength.

Embrace change. Don’t let the past shape your current thoughts or actions. The past brought you brand- and life-damaging consequences, so if you want different results you must try different actions.

Leverage what you know and are passionate about. Most of the successful brands I’ve seen turnaround—especially personal brands—have aligned their core talents and what they love to do with their game plan forward.

And finally, don’t under estimate the power of visual communications. How you dress, what your marketing materials look like and the tools that best reflect the new you—the brand that has turned around—are critical.

This article is based on content from Karen Post’s latest book Brand Turnaround (McGraw-Hill 2011). This article focuses on personal brands, but the book covers a variety of brands from commercial and destination brands, to nonprofit brands.

The magic of momentum – 6 ways to create yours.

tenniswin 200x300 The magic of momentum   6 ways to create yours.

When momentum showed up-I won!

The past few months I’ve really amped up my commitment to my tennis game. I play 4 or 5 times a week, take lessons and participate in cardio drills.

The results have been GREAT. I’ve lost 5 pounds and buffed up quite a bit. And I’ve had a surprising number of wins when I was really behind. I’m talking down by two sets, against a 26 year old or in a deep hole with scores like 5,0 and 5,1 and I’ve come back.

I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon, how it happens and how it applies to life and business too.

For me it’s about a few big emotions: frustration, annoyance, disappointment and how to manage them.

I know feeling frustrated is a big fat waste of energy. It keeps you in a spin, not moving anywhere. While I work on eliminating this emotion from my life, I’d be lying if I said I never feel it. I do, and many times it’s on the court, especially when I keep on losing the same points in the same way.

Lesson here. Do things differently. If you do things the way you’ve been doing them, you will likely get the same results.

Annoyance is another evil emotion. In my view it’s a weakness and it translates into letting the other person get to me over and over again. I often feel defeated even before the game is over. I get very annoyed when my opponent in tennis does something pesty, like continuous short drop shots, and return shots with an extreme spin that makes the ball go in totally weird places after it bounces.

Lesson here. Instead of using your energy to beat up yourself more, re-frame the emotion from annoyance to excitement, replace those annoying things your opponent is doing with actions to stop them and deliberate moves that activate excitement.

Some contend that disappointment is a legitimate feeling especially when expectations are set. I’m often torn with this concept, because I try very hard to practice an “in the moment” way of living. But I’m also very goal-focused and I believe one must have standards set to bench-mark stuff and know when to activate the delete button; when things just don’t meet your needs.

Lesson here. I acknowledge the state of disappointment like I do failure. Both are temporary events. Feel them in proportion to the big scheme of things, not for one second more.

Such as: minor disappointments like losing a non professional tennis match, or when some random person not even in your close world is being rude or mean or like when you buy a piece of fruit and it ends up bad and tart when you were craving a sweet plum. For me, I ask myself, does it really matter? Then I shake it off right away or in a few minutes.

Or a bigger disappointment like when a professional setback occurs that impacts many things, or a person I value who is not acting the way I want them to or when I make a bad investment that shows up as a big number on my balance sheet. For me- I try to find some good in the bad event, then I shake it off in a few hours or at the most a few days.

Hanging on to disappointments is no better than torching all your clothes, your car and yourself. Not only will it prevent future joy, it produces other negative effects like toxic pollution which touches others too.

The real key to this story is not the emotion, but the turning point. This is the point when the discomfort from frustration, annoyance and disappointment become unbearable. It’s the point that one must choose to change things because they’ve had enough. And when they are done right, theses changes result in a magical force called momentum.

Momentum is how I came back to win those games. Momentum can change your game too, in sports, business and in life. Whether you are vacillating in a bad relationship, in a stagnate career or struggling  to hit a home run with start-up.

Momentum has the power of a big wind storm. Momentum can set you free and produce many amazing rewards.

Finding your momentum is about choice.
You’ve got to want it.
And then you’ve got to create it.

Here’s how it happens – How to create your momentum.
Tony Robbins first taught me these ways to make momentum when I attended his “Unleash the Power within Workshop” a few years ago. Since then I practice it often and added some steps to make the process work for me. And it has. When I make momentum big stuff happens, stuff that seemed impossible manifests.

1) Get in a peak state. It creates momentum.
This means get your head, your heart and the physiology body in extreme focused, high-performance state. It helps me to remember another event when I was in a peak state. Like for me in tennis, I imagine a past comeback victory. I visualize that place and how it made me feel higher than high, an adrenaline rush, total bliss!! I go there again. Or in business, I remember a big new business score, a standing ovation or a time a client raved about my work.

2) Find your passion. It creates momentum.
This means reminding yourself of your values. What do you love? I love to compete!! What do you really want? For me, in tennis, it’s adding another win to my scorecard.

3) Decide, commit and resolve. It creates momentum.
This means no waffling, no tentativeness and no doubts. When I’m on the court I recite positive mantras too, OK some are sprinkled with a little snarkiness too.

Go after everything.
Nadal, Federer, Post
Ms. Opponent, you think you like steak, try chewing on this tennis ball.
Finish the shot.
Yes, I can!!!

4) Take urgent, immediate, consistent and massive action. It creates momentum.
It means as Nike says: Just do it!! And I say: Do it now!!
A sense of urgency has to kick in. A “take no prisoners” mindset has to be center stage.

5) Be flexible and honest with yourself.
Ask yourself: Are the changes working? Do I need to modify some more? Maybe take on a new action?

6) Celebrate.
Feel the emotion of your achievement, the big and small ones count. Remind yourself who led the movement, YOU! And remind yourself of the formula that was needed, so you can do it again.

In closing, the super cool thing about momentum is it’s a very present, powerful force, like a huge gust of wind. Your competitors will fear it, your team and peers will embrace it and it can serve as fuel in your tank for the next battle, on the courts, in the boardroom or in a life environment.

Go make some momentum!!

Karen Post on Rush Limbaugh and the online outrage

The Huffington Post
Hell hath no fury like a woman wired. Women’s protests on social media are packing a bigger punch than ever. Rush Limbaugh and his sponsors felt it. So did the Susan G. Komen charity. The online outrage and boycott campaigns shame brands into cooperating at the risk of losing customers. And women’s influence will only grow, experts say.

Read full article »

Karen Post on branding and The Oscars 2012

The Huffington Post
How can pretty boys in tuxedos and waifs in gowns beat the crap out of 260-pound linebackers?

In advertising, of course, when the Oscars go toe-to-toe with the Super Bowl.

Read full article »

Karen Post talks about her new book, Brand Turnaround, on Daytime

Karen Post talks about her new book, Brand Turnaround, on Daytime from Karen Post on Vimeo.

Karen Post discusses how to create your own momentum

Small Business Advocate

Professional momentum starts with you. Karen Post joins Jim Blasingame to discuss how to create your own momentum by having faith in yourself and methodically turing obstacles into opportunities.

Listen now »

Brand Turnaround movie by branding speaker Karen Post

Brand Turnaround movie by branding speaker Karen Post from Karen Post on Vimeo.

Brands are born, brands go through crisis, and some brands survive. Will you brand be ready to face an unexpected shakeup?

Unavailable brands—time to kiss them goodbye

cold heart 214x300 Unavailable brands—time to kiss them goodbye










In the spirit of love and affection as many celebrate Valentine’s Day, the day of awesome relationships, frisky friendships, risky affairs and just plain gushy lust, I thought it would be appropriate to mention the everyday occurrence of unavailable brands. You know the kind, the not so healthy, lots of issues, not worth the time and certainly not worth the loyalty—when company brands get so chilly, so unconnected and just straight up are not available to their paying customers who truly want to love them.

The sad fact is there are many brands who behave like this and then wonder why their customers cheat and defect to a younger or more loving competitor.

Here are the red flags to know when it may be time to start dating- I mean shopping around:

  • You’ve got a problem and there is no phone number on their website.
  • Or it takes way too long and way too much work to find it.
  • Or a “contact us” form with no reply or at best a form reply that says: “we are very busy, we’ll try to get to you some day”.
  • Or you call them and after 20 minutes in the phone tree jungle, you speak with a customer service rep by the name of Carol, who you can’t understand, and you know darn well no Carols’ live in that country.

It’s unfortunate there are not horse-mounted brand police that would issue costly citations when companies play like this. But then again, unhappy customers now have a voice with social media, word of mouth and on high traffic blogs, just ask Dell, Bank of America and Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Tonight at tennis I asked my buds who they thought were some of the worst offenders, the not available brands, here’s what I heard. Tazo Tea, the Starbuck’s company, Sam’s club, the Walmart Company, Skype and the Microsoft Company. I’m sure you’ve got your list too. It is a shame that these big brands would be so clueless to the basic concept that open communication is essential to keep a relationship red hot.

Smart brands who value relationships with their customers make it easy for them to talk and they listen.

A big kiss and hug to Apple, American Express and Southwest airlines.

How easy is it for your brand to be loved?

To learn about more brand bumps and how the got back on the saddle, view: Brand Turnaround.


52 lessons, observations and declarations

Screen Shot 2012 02 12 at 1.07.55 PM 297x300 52 lessons, observations and declarations






Lincoln images


This past week one of my favorite guys and myself celebrated a birthday. I’m happy to report that I’m the younger one. In fact, Abe Lincoln is 203.

For those of you who know me well know I’m not a holiday girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love to celebrate, I just believe that everyday you are above ground is a celebration and special, instead of making a big deal about the traditional Hallmark days.

As I added another year to my timeline this week, I reflected on some of the most meaningful threads that make up my fabric. I put together 52, and yes there is a reason for that number, I hope you enjoy.

These are not in order of priority.

1.) I used to think the number one factor in success was cash flow, this is a myth, it is self-confidence.

2.) Guilt, regret and worry are by far the most unproductive mind trips.

3.) More self-responsibility by everyone will improve the world. The government, your boss, your partner, your job, your clients and the next moron you encounter at the gas station can suck and impact a nice day. OK, what part of that situation can you control?

4.) Life is short. Live like it was your last day.

5.) I have over 10-deceased friend’s contact info in my iphone.

6.) Nobody or no thing can really make you happy.

7.) Peoples’ behavior, cash flow and things can definitely alter your mood.

8.) I can’t tolerate whiners, racists or people who don’t wear deodorant.

9.) Patience is not one of my virtues.

10.) Listening to music, playing tennis and winning are three of my top favorite past times.

11.) My all time favorite book is “ The Pocket Pema Chodrom”. 2nd favorite Brand Turnaround and a close tie StraightForward: Ways to live and lead.

12.) Hair color is by far one of the most important inventions in history.

13.) Unless you buy lottery tickets and win, delegation is a critical skill for success.

14.) If you give crappy instructions, you will get disappointing results.

15.) Awards are exciting, but the journey is where the riches are.

16.) Friends and relationships should add to your life. If they don’t, they are useless weights that should be dismissed.

17.) Design is really important. The elements of beauty, emotion and ease of experience make life better.

18.) If you don’t have a strong sense of humor, you won’t be strong in personal relationships.

19.) Spelling is important to many people. I’m not one of them.

20.) I wish dogs and other animals could talk.

21.) I wish some people would talk less.

22.) I hate mushrooms, phone trees (when you call for help hit #1 for this, hit #2 for that) and bureaucrats.

23.) Three of the biggest fashion crimes: men wearing too much jewelry, women wearing panty hose with sandals and long fingernails on both.

24.) There are way too many unproductive meetings held everyday.

25.) Thoughtful agendas and a meeting marshall can fix this.

26.) “Play up” in everything you do. This means hang with people and companies that are more accomplished than you and play sports with athletes who are better than you.

27.) Invest in you. Attend workshops, hire expert coaches and treat yourself often.

28.) Don’t always believe your mind. Sometimes it thinks up really stupid and damaging thoughts.

29.) Do follow your gut. It knows a lot more than you might expect.

30.) Appearance matters. Youthfulness, fitness, grooming, your teeth and wardrobe make a difference in business.

31.) Exercise is the best medication going. It sharpens your brain, provides more mental bandwidth and wards off evil stress.

32.) Self-promotion is not a bad thing. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is likely not too successful.

33.) The art of leverage is among the most important skills a successful person should master.

34.) No risk. No reward. Period.

35.) Bad fruit never gets better. You can fire clients, friends, spouses and brands. If they do not add to your happiness, get rid of them. NOW!

36.) Casting blame is often an action of a loser. Even train wrecks require willful passengers to pick the car, track and place it’s headed.

37.) Optimism is a virtue. I am an eternal optimist.

38.) The only person you can control or change is yourself.

39.) Don’t trust too soon. Don’t trust everybody and don’t harbor the past. But do file away any deceptive players in your experience cabinet.

40.) Market research has its place. However, it is not a crystal ball. Just ask Coke-Cola.

41.) You don’t have to like everyone. But you do need to respect everyone and their unique beliefs.

42.) When drinking wine or other adult libations cell phones, ipads and computers should not be present. In other words, communicating while under the influence of mind altering substances can come with risks.

43.) The past only matters if you choose to live there.

44.) Pole-vaulting to conclusions and writing the future can cause physical and mental anguish. Let life happen. Live in the present.

45.) Failure is the fastest way to success. And Failure is a temporary event.

46.) It’s never too late to start something, change something or be a better person.

47.) I like and enjoy breaking rules and I get annoyed by people who can’t go there.

48.) Often, I love acting my shoe size instead of my age. Playfulness, being spontaneous, independent and free to choose everything are a few of my driving values.

49.) I still don’t understand why our creators created cellulite, any moles or facial hair on women.

50.) My single greatest achievement: being a happy entrepreneur and controlling my destiny.

51.) You do not need to master everything. But what you do love doing—make it a masterpiece.

52.) Be the joy you want to experience everyday and life will never disappoint you.

Karen Post discusses the Susan G Komen & Planned Parenthood controversy

Karen Post discusses the Susan G Komen & Planned Parenthood controversy from Karen Post on Vimeo.

What has the Planned Parenthood controversy done to harm Susan G. Komen’s brand?

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