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Five Easy Ways to Destroy Your Personal Brand

We talk about brand building often in this space. Today, rather than discussing tactics to build your brand, we’re going to go over common mistakes to avoid. These are common habits that will make it hard to build your brand—if they don’t destroy it altogether:

1) Negativity. Regardless of the type of brand you are trying to build, negativity is poisonous. Potential clients don’t want to work with an individual that is overly negative, and companies don’t want to hire negative employees. Don’t get on Facebook and complain about a friend or a business that mistreated you. When you’re on the phone with a client, don’t spend time complaining—not even about the weather, the local sports team, or anything else. You want to appear positive and approachable. Negativity will kill your brand quickly—avoid it at all costs!

2) Lack of Focus. You can’t be everything to everyone. Your personal brand should be focused around a few key qualities—your engineering skills, your sense of humor, or your customer service skills, for instance. You can’t be a brilliant chef, political commentator, science expert, comedian and financial guru all at once—at least not in the world of branding! Overdoing it will dilute your brand, and you won’t stand for anything. Decide what qualities are most important, and focus your personal brand around them.

3) Dishonesty. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t claim to know more than you do. Don’t pass other people’s work off as your own. The real danger with dishonesty, from a branding standpoint, is that it will render you untrustworthy. If you’re known as the writer who plagiarizes, for instance, you’ll need to find a new career. If you’re known as a business that promises clients the world and then can’t deliver, you’re going to find it very hard to attract customers. When you’re branding, don’t embellish and don’t lie. Sooner or later, dishonesty will come back to haunt you in a very big way.

4) Impatience. Building a strong brand takes time. You can’t expect to have an incredible brand within a couple of months of work. Branding is about building a long-term perception of yourself and your company. Unfortunately, I’ve known many businesspeople and individuals who were very excited about branding—but dropped it after a couple of weeks. Building your brand is a long-term project that requires commitment and dedication. If you’re expecting instant payoffs, you’re going to be disappointed—and you’re probably going to quit.

5) Procrastination. One of the top reasons that personal branding is neglected is because you don’t have to do it. It’s not like paying taxes or filling up your gas tank. There is no required timeline, and the benefits can be hard to quantify. As a result, when you’re going through your to-do list, it’s easy to push branding off to the next day. Building your brand requires consistent work—whether it’s posting on Twitter or Facebook, writing on a blog, or sending out a newsletter. If you procrastinate, it’s simply not going to happen.