What Kills Great Personal Brands ?
Just how do brands lose the trust of consumers? In some cases brands may lose the trust in a single instance while in other cases it takes a series of events before consumers finally abandon your brand. Why do we still buy Sony Bravia yet the company is almost going under, in debt amounting to billions? or how does Apple manage to sell its millions of units of its products even before launch? Closer home why do you always shave at the same Kinyozi? Why do we drink in a squeezed bar yet the joint next door is empty? Or just what makes us complain about Safaricom all the time yet we don't abandon the brand? In some cases we were all told 'Ni Kuhama' and we did try but we later came back to Safaricom. Coca-Cola is in no way different to Pepsi in terms of the product but the world over the years has been inclined on “Opening Happiness” every time we need Ice Cold refreshment. It’s got to do with one thing…We trust these brands! They do mess up at times and we still forgive them because they move in quickly to re-assure us that they are ‘doing something’ about their mistakes and we stick there waiting for the next big thing from them, waiting for them to correct their mistakes! Such trust is also demonstrated when dating, in business and in life generally. People buy YOU. You are the brand; not so much the company you represent, not so in the product you are selling but ultimately people buy the person first; if they easy with dealing with you (Trust) then you can get business from them.
You may be asking probably why is trust such a great issue in your personal. You are the CEO of the brand YOU, as a person your brand has values and stands for something. This definitely affects how people interact with you and perceive you. As a person you definitely do something for a living; from the mama mboga to the big shots in the corporate; your personal brand matters in the success of what you do.
On the scale of brand liking at the most basic level people just LIKE your brand, at this level consumers or key target clients are switchers, indifferent and show no loyalty. That means if you are selling something people are not obliged to buying from you. Could be as simple as being a mechanic, if your customers just like you they have no obligation to come back next time they need something fixed.
The next level is when guys get to RESPECT your brand- At this level you become recognized among your peers & industry; either because you have achieved a certain level of success in your career or field. We all marvel at how Moi managed to rule us for 24 years or just how Tabitha Karanja managed to face EABL head on in the beer market. At this level if you are a consultant, lawyer or marketer by having people respect your brand doesn’t mean much. Although at this level you may get a few business referrals from past clients or friends it still isn’t the ultimate level in the scale.
At the third level people fall in love with your brand and consider it a FRIEND. At this level your brand has stood the test of time and has been consistent. You already have a good number of happy customers who have become your brand ambassadors. At this level you have already established yourself as the Go to Person in your area of expertise. It’s an important milestone in personal branding because people want to be associated with you, your opinion counts and business is booming however if you mess up at this point your career dies!
At the final level we have TRUST- When people trust your brand then your customers aren’t sensitive to price increases in terms of how much you charge, you’ll also spend lesser budgets in marketing what you do. Your past happy customers turned brand ambassadors help you in attracting new customers and increase your brand awareness. At this level you are at the peak of the game and this too acts as a reassurance to new customers that if they deal with you they are dealing with the BEST! If you are a trusted brand in your industry then clients Like, Respect and consider the brand as their Friend and this definitely gives you an edge over your competitors, gives you time to respond to the fierce competition in the market.
After working so hard and gaining the trust of the market just how do brands then lose the trust again?
1. Greed- Where you are a dominant player in the market or a household name in your industry there's always a tendency to charge premium prices on your services or products. Well that's cool however if you charge too much consumers start drifting to cheaper alternatives which offer the same value for their money. Most of the times you experience post purchase dissonance when you buy lunch at a famous outlet and you didn’t enjoy the meal; it’s even worse because you paid so much for it! When this happens the brand loses a customer because the consumer certainly didn’t get the value for his money. As a person if you price your services so high and clients realize you aren’t worth the hype & clout you attract then they don’t come back to you! Greed is also demonstrated in times when brokers/agents get nice business deals and decide to outsource the service by paying the service provider peanuts. Well most small companies and consultants have gone through this as they rise but what happens to the brokers? They never get to grow because of this greed!
2. Corruption- While a certain level of corruption goes on in every country, corruption in Kenya is a particularly large problem. The average urban Kenyan has to pay 16 bribes a month to get his regular affairs arranged. In the 1990s, he was part of the Goldenberg scandal, where smuggled gold was exported out of Kenya in exchange for high government subsidies. It's one of the largest corruption scandals to date in Kenya, which involved nearly the entire Moi government. Many officials from the Central Bank, and more than 20 senior judges have also been implicated some of whom have been axed in the ongoing judges vetting. CMC has also hit the deadlines recently and such cases ruin the corporate identities of the people involved and the companies they represent. So for you to keep the trust please don't engage in these activities. Could be anything from the small kickbacks (Lunch) you ask for to push something in the office.
3. Laziness- Once in a while when we experience great success and money comes in we tend to relax and enjoy the mullah first. It happens to artistes especially and hustlers who win huge tenders or have big breaks in life. The reason why there are rags to riches to rags again stories is because of laziness once the success comes! When you are at the peak kindly keep working harder! Too much clubbing & golfing has also killed careers especially to for people in mid thirties!
4. Low quality & Poor delivery- At the peak of your success business is doing well, if you are in the corporate world your career is at its best. At this point most people then relax and pride sets in! It begins with simple things like getting to the office late and leaving early. Frequent leave requests for leisure and rest. What may seem harmless at the beginning then makes one deliver projects late at work or delegate work which shall be poorly done and submitted to clients. With time people lose trust with you and if you are in business clients start migrating, if you are working retrenchment may find you or the axe may fall on you during that dreaded downsizing!
5. Lack of consistency The best brands are consistent with their brand promise and that shouldn’t be different with your personal brand. If at any one point people don’t see consistency in how you behave, deliver and how you handle projects then with time people lose trust in your brand. Finally package yourself well (The clothes you wear) to engage your market. This silently influences your audience because if people notice a great change in the way you dress then you may lose a few clients!!(Don’t get too flashy, be modest) Finally if you cannot stick to your core values then your clients or colleagues will notice the changes! This has killed many small businesses especially when their owners can’t handle the new found success!
6. Brand Affiliations & Associations- Great brands always place themselves in platforms where other great brands go. Could be sponsorships in form of events, conferences, shows and such. As a person people can tell who you are from the places you hang out, people you hang out with and what you do! Great brands have lost trust simply because they were mentioned in a certain drug scandal, corruption allegations and such ills. In as much as people rush to court to sue for defamation or clear their names from such allegations remember the bad publicity is never taken away in the courts!
7. Time- Time is such an important resource, most will say time is money but time is actually more valuable than money. You can make more money but no one can create more time. We all have 24 hours in a day, what matters is what you do in these 24 hours a day that sets you apart. Makes a few people so rich and others poorer. Well how does this affect your brand? If you promise to handle something in a day and respond, do it. If you promise a client to fix something in a week, do it in that time frame. If you have a 10 am appointment with someone please be there 5 minutes earlier, if you foresee you will be late kindly communicate in advance. If you promise to pay your creditors next week kindly do so however if you think you can’t honour the agreement kindly let the other party know. If you can’t keep time you tend to look disorganized, bogus and unprofessional so kindly manage this resource well.
In what other ways have great personal brands lost trust? Please share that with me on twitter @Kenyanmarketer