You spend a lot of time building up your personal brand, your image, and it’s a great investment. Your personal brand is your reputation, and the last thing you want is an unknown party riding on the coattails of your brand to gain a little weight. The problem, of course, isn’t just that they’re grabbing a free ride off your hard work, it’s that they’ll get your coattails dirty, and everyone will see. That’s why you need to be an active defender of your brand and stay vigilant against the misuse of your company image.
Pretending to Be You
A third party using your personal brand or a product of yours can affect you on several levels. Blatant violations will include using your logo as their own or even pretending to be a licensed partner or distributor of your company and then provide products and services you’re not even associated with. If this is the case, then any interactions were done between clients and this fake sham of a company will directly affect your actual company image, and what’s worse is that you might not know this is happening for months, maybe even years. Unfortunately, there is almost no way to track this if these transactions are occurring offline, and you’ll only know it’s happening when Google searching your company name starts bringing up complaints and negative reviews for services that you don’t actually provide.
Pretending to Work With You
Of course, a third party simply slapping your name on their list of supporters or company partners, though not as blatant, can blemish your name just as much as the previous example. First of all, no one has the right to use your company name and get a free ride off your hard work, so these transgressors need to be stamped out on principle alone; secondly, any unsavory or unprofessional behavior that they exhibit will rebound upon your reputation only because you’re listed as an associate/sponsor/partner/etc. Luckily, for this to happen they have to have a website, and that leaves all kinds of breadcrumbs for you to follow.
Watching Your Back
If the operation is some kind of back-alley “slap a logo sticker on a Zune and calls it an iPhone” operation, there’s nothing much you can do to track them down since they’re just using your physical logo offline, but luckily these kinds of shenanigans tend to not extend further than the neighborhood the perpetrator lives in. But if you get a serious ne’er-do-well working off an online site, by actively sweeping Google search results and all associations of your company names you can weed out the problem quickly and prevent any lasting damage. The goal here is to be vigilant and consistent, meaning once a week and not once a year. Like all identity theft, you want to stop the problem as quickly as you can.
Your company is your egg, and it took a lot of work and a lot of sacrifices to take care of it. Unfortunately, there are people who prefer to scrape along off of someone else instead of making something of their own, and they’re always thinking on new ways to do it. They can damage your reputation and even lose you clients, so make sure you’re being vigilant about knowing how and where your personal brand is being used.