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.
If you just joined in, yesterday I shared my journey of getting two book deals with major publishers. Brain Tattoos and Brand Turnaround my new title that will be out later this year. I covered what it takes, the process and outcome. In future blogs I’ll address other publishing details, but for now here are 5 big lessons straight from the author’s keyboard or pen, I use both.
Lesson #1- It’s never too late to find the writer in you and author a book.
Go figure, I owned a successful ad agency for almost 20 years and never really wrote anything. How in the heck did I do that?
I produced good creative work, developed new business, crafted and found solutions and spit out ideas like a machine, and most importantly I knew how to hire people to do things that I did not want to or didn’t know how to.
Lesson #2- Most books will not make you cash rich.
Like I mentioned in Part I, the book advance is not as important as the doors your book can open. While my current book earned me double my first book advance, I will invest at least four times that on research, editing and promotion in addition to what the publisher provides. Certainly there are unique situations like if you are a very high profile personality, or have an enormous following or are like one cool wine dude like Gary Vaynerchuk who bagged a 10 book, 7 figure deal with Harper Collins. I’ll drink to that Gary!
Lesson #3- Writing a book is a lot of work and a huge investment by most authors.
To date on my current book, Brand Turnaround, I’ve logged over 1,200 hours – from proposal writing, research, book writing, promotion and therapy. So if I earn between an average of $175 an hour, which is on the low end, do the math. I’ve already invested over $200,000 in other opportunity costs (because if I was not writing the book, I could generating other income) even before hard expenses. Expenses to promote the book can run another $50,000 for PR, web costs, bookmarks, blah, blah, blah.
Lesson #4-Writing a book takes a strong emotional skin.
Can you say rejection, rejection, rejection and then two scoops of criticism on top of that? Welcome to publishing. Seth Godin was rejected over 900 times, Adrianna Huffington at least 36, even Alex Haley The Roots author wrote every day for 8 years before finding success. And then sometimes when even great work is published, grumpy, mean people will publicly criticize your work too. And when your writing and researching at least 50 people will never return your calls. So if writing is a goal, put your big girl or boy pants on.
Lesson #5-Writing a book is a wonderfully rewarding experience.
Like MC Hammer said so well, “Can’t touch this.” Book writing is a mirific journey. It’s scary, ludic, and exuberating. You’ll learn stuff about you and other people. You’ll meet many grateful fans that will beg for your autograph and a handful of jerks that will try to rattle your soul. In the end, it is all worth it. The prize is indescribable.
Here are some excellent resources too.
The Creative Penn is an excellent blog filled with book writing and marketing tips
Chris Brogan writes a solid blog packed with insight. He recently wrote several great posts on his book writing experience.
Read. Write and have fun!