Personal branding: Think it’s not important? You’re wrong.

I had an interesting experience today.  I’m putting up new closet doors in my home and I accidentally bought the wrong door handle.  All I wanted to do was exchange the handle I had – and didn’t need – for the correct one.  Sounds pretty simple, right?

I decided to call the store first to make sure they had the item I was looking for – instead of wating time going to the home-building store, where I made the purchase originally( I hate wasting time… ).  Rather than help me, by going to the shelf and looking for the product I was inquiring about, the sales associate, who picked up the phone, did his best to tell me that they didn’t have any, insisted I call another location of their store, and rushed me off the phone.  What type of impression do you think I had after this call?

…. A very poor one, not only of the individual but, more importantly, the company!  I would describe the interaction with the sales associate as:

  • Unprofessional
  • Rash
  • Mediocre
  • Thoughtless

I decided to call the store back because I was confident they had the item I was looking for… I was there a few days earlier and saw several of the door handles I was looking for in stock.  As I made the call, I was gearing up to have a very assertive, yet professional phone call with whoever answered the phone (nobody tosses this lady around).

I was pleasantly surprised when an overly helpful young man (I make it sound as if I’m ancient) did his best to help me find what I was looking for.  He spent quite a few minutes looking for the item but kept me posted every so often so that I didn’t feel that he had abandoned me on the phone.  He finally found the item I was looking for and said he’d keep it on him (like in his pocket!!!) until I came to the store to do an exchange.  What type of impression do you think I had after this call?

… A very positive one of the individual and a VERY confusing one of the company!  During and after this call, I thought that THIS person was:

  • Professional
  • Adding value to my customer experience
  • Internally-motivated
  • Extremely helpful

I could go on and on about this minor event in the day but what I truly took away from both of these interactions is how two people, working in the same department, for the same company, treated a customer completely different.  Then I thought of you….

What these two gentlemen showed me is what THEY (nothing to do with the company here) are known for; they showed me just a sliver of their personal brand and from that, I formed a very strong impression of who I’d rather do business with.


We do that all the time.  Sometimes we only eat at certain restaurants because of the great food and great experience, or go see a particular banker because of their attention to detail with our money, or even frequent a specific dry cleaner because they mend minor imperfections on your clothes without charging or telling you about it.  This is not only fantastic customer service but also a reflection of a well-developed personal brand – one that keeps us coming back to buy over and over again from specific people(s) or businesses.

With style, I often ask people to answer the question: what do you want your style to say about you?
When coaching people on developing a personal brand, a similar question applies: what is it that you want to be known for?
What is it that YOU do and say, each and every day, that keeps your customers happy and builds a successful brand for yourself?
Do you want to be known for the words I listed from the first sales associate or do you want to be known for the things I listed in the second example?  Regardless of what company you work for, your personal brand stays with you.

The end. :)