A month ago a small electronic was released to the general public, one that I had decided I wanted long before it released to the public. The NES Classic Edition is a little Nintendo gaming system used to play retro games. I wanted the system to introduce my young kids to gaming. As we approached go-live of this $50 toy it became apparent that supply would be limited and as such I would have difficulty finding a company. I decided at that point that I would not pay a scalper 3x as much for the system as it wasn’t worth that, so if I couldn’t find it at go live for MSRP I’d just wait for a better opportunity at a lower price.
I found it, or did I?
So, through the first day of sales I looked for this item and ultimately I landed a purchase on Toys’R’US for the list price. I actually even was able to buy 2 so I could potentially resell the second device and recoup the cost of the first (or provide it as a gift to someone else depending on what happened with availability). Despite the purchase, I didn’t end up with the device. My first indication that something was wrong was an email from Toys’R’US saying my shipment would be delayed, but I was still going to receive my item. 3 days later I received a different email stating they’d cancelled my order. I was at once both sad that I didn’t have my toy and angry at the company. My second reaction was to call my wife and tell her we would never do business with this company or its affiliate Baby’R’US again. I also decided to tell my friends and family to do so. Just like that, a company that had built up years for good will with me, lost me as a customer forever. To give you an idea, even to this day I can recite their theme song from when I grew up in the 80s unprompted. I’ll refrain from typing the words to spare getting this ditty stuck in your head.
Why you should Pay Attention to Your Brand
This post isn’t really about getting you to shun this company, as frankly I could write a blog on just companies that do such things. No, this post is about your brand, and why you should always pay attention to how you treat your coworkers, bosses, customers etc. In my story about Toys’R’US it’s very likely the company itself did not cause the problems that lead to my cancelled order. Just like in your job, life, etc. you might not cause issues that could negatively impact your brand. What led me to walk away from this brand was how they handled the negative situation. The same can be said for how people will walk away from your brand if you don’t handle difficult situations correctly.
Not Everyone will Love Your Brand
Now let me start by saying, you can’t make everyone happy all the time. There will always be haters whether they are commenters on your blog, coworkers or bosses that perceive you as a threat, or people that just plain don’t like you. These are not the people that define your success or failure. That lies with your repeat customers, the boss that believes in you and attempts to help your career, the coworker that provides you support when the going gets tough, or even the handful of blog commenters that comment on every post (thank you by the way, it is very much appreciated). There is a saying in marketing, it takes 3x the expense to get customers back that leave you, so retention is key.
So what does this mean for you?
- When faced with a difficult situation that will have a negative impact on others in your organization, communicate as early as possible. There is nothing worse than being surprised by bad news.
- When in doubt of the impact of a decision, ask. Stakeholder management is often considered the key to making changes in an organization. It’s also the key to managing your brand. Between understanding the impact and item 1 of communicating the impact you’ve handled half the battle.
- Ask how you can help to mitigate the situation and be dedicated to trying. Say you’re going to miss a deadline at work or you are going to leave your position for a new company. Taking the position of helping to mitigate the problems that will occur will go a long way to helping your brand and ensuring the person does not associate the bad circumstances solely with you. The old saying goes don’t shoot the messenger. Well, as the messenger you need to do your best to be associated with trying to fix the issue rather than causing it.
- Never Burn a bridge. I always find it remarkable how small the world really is. I’ve had people who worked with me at other companies end up as coworkers/bosses/ and customers, people from my home town show up at the same vacation location in far flung locations, and people I’ve known for years delivering services for me. It pays to do everything you can to not burn a bridge. Even if a person or job has been particularly bad for you, resist the urge to point it out on your way out the door. You never know when your next job or service may depend on the person you are leaving.
- Where possible craft your career to work on items of a more positive impact to your organization. Forever being known as the person who saved the company millions of dollars or created a new innovative idea will earn you a lot of leeway and cooperation in your future endeavors.
- Now obviously this has limits. If you attempt to tie yourself to projects or tasks you are not involved with you will foster resentment from those whom know. So make sure to only do this for the things on which you truly work. Also make sure to spread the thanks to others who may have also contributed. No one likes a glory hog.
Your Brand is Ultimately Key
So much of your career, company, or relationships are not only what you know but who. Having a reputation as a problem solver who communicates when issues occur and is tied to the success of the organization or customer will go a long way to pushing your prospects forward. It only takes one major wrong move to ruin decades of good will built up, similar to what Toys’R’US has done. So remember to keep these things in mind as you progress your life. Not every task you work on, or job you hold will be glorifying, not every message you deliver will be well received, it is how you craft the entirety of your brand that will outline your success.