Are You Killing Your Personal Brand?

Annie Neubrech

In the years of mentoring individuals about their personal brand and how important it is to their career, I’ve discovered that the focus is now too centered on building attributes of strength and delivering positive experiences. This narrow concentration is creating an adverse reaction in brand-building; people are undoing the positive brand attributes they’re so intent on building.

Personal Branding[1]Various studies show that there is a positive-to-negative ratio on brain entries, and that it
takes many more positive interactions with a person to eliminate the memory of one negative experience. While some claim the ratio is at minimum two-to-one, others believe it’s closer to a five-to-one ratio. Whatever the ratio may be, negative experiences are remembered and have a detrimental impact on a person’s brand. If you want to avoid eroding your brand in the workplace, it is imperative to actively create positive experiences while mitigating the negative encounters.

While this may sound simple in theory, people don’t always pay attention to their personal brands on a daily basis. In fact, there are five things many people do repeatedly at work that sabotage their efforts. I call these errors “habit-inflicted brand erosion experiences.” Do you make any of these mistakes?

  1. Ask for or accept responsibility and don’t follow through. This can be as simple as not delivering a report by a deadline. Even if the product is amazing, being late is still a negative impression. This erodes your trustworthiness.
  1. Acknowledge understanding of what’s being asked of you, but do something different. Maybe you didn’t pay attention to the words in the email or the verbal instructions. Maybe you didn’t ask enough questions. Maybe you didn’t clarify the request by summarizing your understanding. Regardless, if you agreed to deliver and missed the mark, it’s a negative impression. This weakens your perceived competence.
  1. Complain and explain. This is a double whammy to your brand. You complained about taking on a project, and then rationalized, blamed, or danced around acceptance of responsibility when it wasn’t done correctly. Here’s a tip: Don’t complain and don’t explain.
  1. Behave inconsistently depending on the person’s title. Nothing could be more harmful to one’s brand than being known as the person that interacts with and delivers differently depending on the title and rank. Word travels fast, so the negative impression you made on one person (especially a peer), may be shared with 10 other people in a matter of minutes. Do this and wave goodbye to your authenticity.
  1. Mistreat others. Please and thank you go a long way in the workplace as does asking for help vs. demanding cooperation. Remember, your timeline and sense of urgency may not match the agendas of your colleagues. Don’t assume, expect, or demand that people will drop everything in order to help you do your work. This type of negative experience can erode your likability.

Building your personal brand in the world of business today is not an easy task. Don’t make it harder by committing one of the five costly mistakes above. Instead, take Dr. Seuss’ advice and “Do as you say and say as you do.”

Watch the video Knowledge Networks: Productivity and Human Connections to learn why sharing your expertise can enhance your personal brand.


About Annie Neubrech

Annie Neubrech is a Regional Vice President at SAP with responsibility for the partner engagement team in the US sales region. Her teams manage the relationships with more than 200 US partners and distributors that resell and provide services to end-customers as well as the SAP PartnerEdge programs that support them. With SAP since May 2010, Annie’s previous roles with SAP included responsibility for partner recruitment, onboarding, enablement and channel expansion across all partner types (from VAR and SI to OEM and ISV).