17/07/2013

By Alexia Leachman, Founder of www.headtrash.co.uk


In my last article I talked about the damage that exaggerating our accomplishments, downright lying and not being authentic can bring. I now want to outline what you can do when your personal brand is damaged (provided it’s not damaged beyond repair as is the case with multi Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong – and I’ll go on to say why).

US hero Armstrong had picked up seven sought after winner medals (until he was stripped of them last year), produced a biography and was working on his second book when the news of his drugs use in the most famous cycling race in the world came out (Armstrong had continually denied using performance enhancing stimulants). On national television he then admitted it.

Where Armstrong ruined his personal brand was in breaking the trust of those who had stood by him throughout a fight against the cycling authorities who’d accused him of the drug misuse in the first place. Not only did Armstrong fail to live up to what his personal brand stood for – integrity and honest sportsmanship – but there was no consistency either.

Golfer Tiger Woods didn’t fib about his extra-marital affairs (maybe to his wife, but not the rest of the world). However he did conceal them and in doing so didn’t live up to his personal brand reputation of being a much-loved all-American sportsman. His brand was salvaged though because his misdemeanours weren’t related to his sport (the reason he was such a big brand in the first place) and crucially, unlike Armstrong, he hadn’t told outright lies to his fans.

How to help restore faith in your personal brand

Apologise. And mean it. Show you understand why an apology was necessary in the first place.

Vow to improve. And be consistent with your actions (in other words make it a behavioural change rather than just a one-off).

Move on. Accept what happened then get on with your life. It may take others longer to accept but they can take their ‘moving on’ cues from you.

Cut your losses. Maybe a change would be therapeutic. Whether that’s a rest, a holiday or a new career, it could be the much-needed injection of energy your personal brands needs.

None of the above is easy but they’re better than taking no action and being mired in controversy for longer.


Alexia Leachman is a mojo-hunter and helps business leaders to find their mojo by helping them to clear their head trash, tell their story, raise their profile, build their digital presence and manage their reputation. Alexia is also the founder of www.headtrash.co.uk and she regularly speaks and writes, and has authored a chapter on Online Reputation for the book “Hit me! The Secrets of getting your small business to punch its weight online”. You can follow her on Twitter at @AlexiaL and find out more at www.alexialeachman.com