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Brand You

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By J. Thompson
Online Career Tips Staff

In marketing, next to product, brand is everything. The American Marketing Association defines brand as, “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” To me, brand represents a consistent level of quality and service that customers experience at every touch point.

[American Public University offers degrees for marketing and brand professionals.]

Could brand fundamentals help us professionally in how we’re perceived in the workplace? Hypothetically speaking, if your office reputation were a brand, what kind of goods are you selling?

Are you consistently engaging around the office? Do you dress like you just fell out of bed or do you dress for the promotion you want to get? Are you welcoming and gracious when someone comes to you asking for help to his problem, or do you keep your head down or your door shut?

I know friends who will never go back to their favorite restaurant because they had one bad experience with the wait staff. They’ve dined there a dozen of times before. The food was always excellent, the atmosphere perfect. One bad attitude from a waiter and that restaurant won’t ever get their business again. Drawing a parallel, I’ve seen colleagues refuse to work with another colleague because of a perceived “bad attitude” due to poor nonverbal communication.

It was probably a misunderstanding or the other person was having a bad day. Regardless, it created a negative perception. And in the world of branding, negative perception is the coup de grace.

Listen Up

I can talk. A lot. But, when a colleague once told me, “thanks for listening,” I realized how important it is to shut the chatterbox once in a while and be an active listener. Remember, listening is 50 percent of interpersonal communication. So, put down the mobile device when someone is talking to you, maintain good eye contact and stifle the yawn.

Hello!

I’ve worked in countless cubicle wonderlands where the walkthrough was a virtual freeway of people moving briskly back and forth avoiding eye contact and any meaningful communication. Pause once in a while and talk with the people around you. There’s no need to break into a long conversation when there’s work to do, just say “hello.” Conversely, look up from your desk once in a while and acknowledge the people around you. And if you’re in an office, leave your door open when you can.

Keep it Cool

If you want a perfect example of how to make the Cold War a little frostier, check out Nikita Khrushchev’s 1960 appearance at the United Nations.

[American Public University offers degrees for history enthusiasts.]

Remember, there’s a fine line between enthusiasm for your argument and coming across as a bully. There’s no reason to pound the table, scowl, or cross your arms if you don’t agree with someone. A little diplomacy shows that you’re strong under pressure.

Believe it or not, the person who knows the least about how you’re perceived in an organization is you. It’s always a good idea to conduct a peer 360-review and solicit feedback from a few colleagues every now and then. In the end, just like managing a brand, it’s all about listening to customer feedback and treating people consistently well.

J. Thompson is the Vice President of the Content team at American Public University. He earned an M.F.A in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and performed his undergraduate studies in English literature, political science and business management between the University of New Mexico and East Carolina University. His career insights draw upon experience as a communications vice president supporting learning management, applicant tracking, and talent and leadership development for Bank of America and other Fortune 500 firms.

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