Have you ever been in a situation where you wish you could just disappear like Invisible Woman from Fantastic Four?
Well in this situation, Ms. Deen’s brand is becoming invisible and her reputation is now marred by lack of brand etiquette. Lacking etiquette can and will allow your ignorance to surface which can effect and affect those who believe in you and support you. For those of you who are not aware of what’s going on with the Paula Deen story, check out this article by the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/22/dining/paula-deen-is-a-no-show-on-today.html
I have listed three lessons we can all learn from Ms. Deen’s brand destruction.
Lesson #1: Loose lips sink ships! Please be aware of what you say, who you say it to and how you say it. As you build your platform every choice you make matters. Make a conscious effort to strive for excellence in your actions and in your communication. Think twice before you speak. Make sure you have trusted advisors on your team who you can flush ideas out with before you communicate them openly to your staff or team members.
Lesson #2: You are the brand! We all have a past. I have a past and it’s important that we own our past. Once you own your past you can connect to the present. Ms. Deen’s brand image connected to the public on screen, but off screen she was disconnected with how to communicate and reference African Americans. The key here is to know your audience, stay current with cultures and trends to avoid ignorance and humiliation.
Lesson #3: Protect your neck! As you build your platform you will upset some people, the objective should always be to stay away from offensive, derogatory or racial epithets. One commentator on a national news program suggested that Ms. Deen should have atoned for the pain of slavery, given credit to African-Americans who helped influence some of the country food that made her famous and offered a stronger statement against racism. If you say something offensive make a sincere apology and move on.
In each of the following cases: Bill Clinton- infidelity, Jesse Jackson-love child, Vanessa Williams-pose nude (I almost forgot about that) and this crazy dude Don Imus-who said nappy headed hoes on air. There was a sincere apology and inspired actions that transformed and transitioned these cases of brand destruction into positive public figures.
What are your thoughts?