Six Ways You are Screwing Up Your Brand

Everything you say and do impacts your personal brand. I should know, I’ve screwed up many times with things I’ve said and done. But enough me, let’s talk about you and the six ways you are screwing up your brand.

1. Please do not send me a Christmas or holiday card. I know people mean well, but it seems obvious that if you want to stand out, don’t be one of the 20 or 50 generic holiday well wishes sent out at this time. Just send a card at another time of the year! I get some really nice, meaningful cards, and I can tell people have put thought into the hand written message and I like getting thoughtful cards… but why send something at the noisiest time of the year?

Can I suggest sending me a card in February? Maybe send me a Valentine! Send me a card on July 1 since no one else sends me a card on July 1. Your message would be even more meaningful if I read it then and wasn’t also reading 20 others.

Oh and don’t even get me started on holiday e-cards. DELETE.

2. LinkedIn is by far the best way to build a strong and meaningful network. It’s also an opportunity for you to screw up your personal brand.

Each week, you are most likely inviting at least one person to connect on LinkedIn. But most are sending 10+ and most are choosing LinkedIn’s boilerplate, “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn”, even though LinkedIn now prompts you to customize the invite. If you are doing this, you are screwing up your personal brand.


Take 30 seconds and make it personal, especially if you do not know the person. But, even if you met them the day before, no matter what, personalize it. Recently I wanted to connect with someone who I felt could help me find vendors for a new business I’m starting next year. I wrote, “Hey Kailey, I see we have five mutual industry connections and I thought it made sense to connect with you. I love to build things, like companies, not Ikea furniture and I’m doing just that right now. There may be an opportunity to learn from each other.

Finally, after the connection is accepted send a more detailed note. I am amazed that 90% of people who send me an invite to connect never contact me after I accept. This is a personal branding fail.

3. Email is still, by far, the number one way people are communicating, even with the multitude of chat and channel solutions like Slack. Therefore, it’s your number one most used communication tool in which your personal brand is impacted. You leave more email impressions than anything else, so make it count every time.

The email signature is rarely maximized. It’s your mini branding opportunity. I like simple, not a bunch of HTML and useless information like your email address, since I obviously know that already. And like any billboard, you need to change it up once in awhile. I change mine every few weeks. Here is what you would see this week if we were communicating by email.

Craig Morantz, Founder Vegan Labs
It’s about a healthier, happier, more meaningful life

Want to increase your results by 32.2% today: Listen to my new morning routine playlist. If you don’t, you’ll never know what could have been.

Then we have the out of office auto responder, which you are either not using  at all or when you do, it says something like this one that I received last week;

“Tim is out of the office on PTO until January 6th. If this matter is urgent, please contact (technical) or (management) for assistance. Otherwise, I’ll respond to your message when I return.”

Ugh, really? This made me throw up a little in my mouth. He refers to himself in the third person and tells us he is out of the office on paid time off? Want to screw up your branding? Have HR create out of office messages like this.

Consider your auto-responder a touch point in your personal and company marketing plan. It doesn’t matter if you have a 50 person customer service team or it’s just you, your auto responder is a fantastic opportunity to create enthusiasm for your brand. Use your auto-responder when you need to focus for a few hours. I use mine everyday and change it up often.

4. It’s true, voicemail is slowly dying, but it’s still an important communication tool that provides an easy way to build your personal and company brand. What if your voicemail greeting gets people to say to their friends, “You seriously need to call this number and listen to her voicemail. It’s brilliant!”

One of my customer service employees would create a new voicemail message everyday with a quote that had resonated with her. Sounds basic, but it had impact. How many voicemails are left each day at your company? Let’s say you only get 50. That’s 50 touch point opportunities. Don’t forget all the voicemails you leave people. Your brand is built with each message you leave someone. Don’t screw up your personal brand, be creative, make your messages memorable.

5. While voicemails are decreasing, meetings aren’t and almost everyone is using Outlook or Google Calendar to manage their time and meetings. There is nothing worse than receiving the “Meeting with Craig Morantz” meeting notice because it then shows up in my calendar as “Meeting with Craig Morantz”. I am Craig!! Again, a missed branding opportunity.

Have some fun, be creative. Heck, use emojis! This is your brand. The subject should get people excited about the meeting. Additionally, every meeting notice should include an agenda and an objective for the meeting. I’d even suggest not accepting invites without an agenda and objective.


When sending a meeting notice to a prospect how about: “Craig visits to learn more about Acme Ltd.” Or an employee meeting invite: “Craig meets with Andrew to understand how he can help remove roadblocks.”

Much more on meeting notices here.

6. Today, if your company has a pulse it’s using email for communication across many departments and laws require opt in and opt out features for the recipient. Have you ever clicked unsubscribe and you end up giving up because it’s too complicated? Want to screw up your brand, make it complicated to unsubscribe or manage email communication preferences.

I’ve been trying to unsubscribe from Threadless for years and still can’t figure it out. Recently I clicked unsubscribe on a charity’s newsletter and was required to fill in my email address and name. Wait. What? Why? Don’t send me an email confirming I’m unsubscribed, that just makes no sense. And please, please, please don’t make me login to update my profile when I want to opt out of your email campaigns. One click, that’s all.

So, that’s the updated six ways you are screwing up your personal brand. Did I miss anything?