I know a woman who fired her hair stylist after catching her inappropriately parked in a handicapped spot. An associate of mine lost a client because of something their associate posted on Facebook. An account director lost a prospect they were close to getting because they treated a waitress badly. The waitress happened to be the prospect’s sister.
Your brand is whatever your consumers perceive it to be, and that perception is based on their total experience with you and your product or service. That includes who you are away from the office, and in today’s camera-phone-Twitter-filled world, you never know who is watching… and reporting.
So does this mean we are no longer able to let our guard down, ever? Sort of.
The real key is not that you can’t be yourself, but rather, that you must always be aware of the self you are. And whoever that is, you’d better be prepared to own it.
In other words, if where you park or what you post on Facebook is a part of you that you embrace, then any clients or potential clients who choose not to do business with you because of it, are probably mismatched in other ways that would prevent an ideal working relationship.
But if you are ashamed when someone “catches” you, it’s probably a habit you should try to change.
Your brand, much like your reputation, takes a long time to build. It is worth protecting. Be who you say you are, and don’t say you’re something you aren’t. Be the best you and own it. Your brand will grow stronger, and so will your character.