Reputations Are Easily Damaged

The dictionary gives us two definitions of the word, reputation.

  • overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general
  • a place in public esteem or regard : good name

It’s a word that’s been around since the 14th century.  It’s almost synonymous now with a word we hear a great deal about.

Reputation = Brand

The word, brand, usually makes us think of all those products that try to grab our attention with those often-jarring advertisements in the middle of our favourite TV show.  However the word is applied more generally now, even to our own individual personalities.  It’s a useful notion since it reminds us that we only influence others and can interact with them if they have a fairly clear impression of what we represent.  If you accept that notion of a personal brand, then it suggests ways you can be more effective in getting your message across to others.

Reputations Are Always Fragile

What quickly comes to mind is how easy our brand or reputation can be harmed by what we or others do.  There’s a rather provocative list in 247wallstreet of  America’s Nine Most Damaged Brands.

Highly recognizable brands can be invaluable, but they require constant attention. Their value can rise or fall because of management decisions, changes in the competitive environment, and the beliefs that a brand has aged beyond its useful lifetime. Often, though, the true causes of drops in brand value are folly and arrogance. 24/7 Wall St’s review of nine brands that were badly damaged recently shows that even the most powerful brand cannot survive horrible decisions.

You may be surprised at the entries in the list but you can read the full article to understand the logic here.

  1. American Airlines
  2. Nokia
  3. Netflix
  4. Airbus 380
  5. Rush Limbaugh
  6. Greece
  7. New Orleans Saints
  8. Chevy Volt
  9. Keith Olbermann

The Internet Makes Reputations Even More Fragile

While it may have been possible in the past to keep your head down for a time until the noise abated on some gaffe you may have committed, the Internet has changed the rules.  Do something incredibly stupid and it’s likely to go viral on Twitter or Facebook. 

If you are going to do the best you can to counter such attacks on your reputation, then it’s essential to keep an active radar screen on what is going on out there.  That’s where a service such as reputationdefender (one of the business services of can be a major assist in giving you an early warning signal.  If someone spreads malicious rumours, then you can make sure the truth gets out there rapidly.

You Are The Biggest Threat To Your Reputation

jp morgan chase

It is probably still the case that most instances of negative impacts on reputation are caused by actions of the individuals concerned.  One of the biggest has appeared in the last few days.  The Reuters headline was JPMorgan has $2 billion trading loss, reputation hit.

JPMorgan Chase & Co said on Thursday that it suffered a $2 billion trading loss from a failed hedging strategy, a disclosure that hit financial stocks and the reputation of the bank and its prominent CEO, Jamie Dimon.

The dollar loss, though, could be less significant than the hit to Dimon and the bank’s reputation.  “This puts egg on our face,” Dimon admitted.

The strategy “morphed over time” and it was “ineffective, poorly monitored, poorly constructed and all of that,” Dimon said.  “This violated our principles. This trading violates the Dimon principle.”

It may well have violated the Dimon principle but your reputation is determined by your practices not necessarily by your principles.

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