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We live in a world where our first thoughts are to go public with our inner thoughts on social media not realizing that the world is watching. Unfortunately, if you wear your emotions on your sleeve, you might want to consider walking away from your fave PDA (personal digital assistant) before you press send and ruin your personal brand.

Branding is an authentic experience you deliver each time someone interfaces with you online or offline. Real talk: You are constantly being watched and one tweet can lead to unemployment, loss of a promotion and public embarrassment.  It doesn’t matter if you are a celebrity or everyday person. Your tweets, pictures, posts and comments are all part of your personal branding.

Courtney Rhodes is a brand strategist, founder of and CEO of Urbanity Communications, a boutique brand marketing consulting firm based in Atlanta. “Maintaining both a strong online and offline brand is becoming increasingly important as more companies and potential clients are performing digital background checks on who they choose to do business with,” says Rhodes.

Courtney spent six years in media sales at Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia), where she managed and trained sales teams, built corporate and community partnerships, and grew revenue for media properties. Having worked extensively with top advertising agencies, PR firms, marketing directors, and entertainment executives and sports franchises during her tenure at Clear Channel, she has a knack for identifying and analyzing brands’ needs.

Recently, I chatted with Courtney Rhodes on the importance of reputation brand management in a digital age, leveraging one’s brand and pressing #RESET.

This RESET is dedicated to building a stronger, smarter and authentic brand you.

MadameNoire: Talk to the MN audience about the importance of maintaining an online/offline brand.
Courtney Rhodes: From a professional standpoint, people research each other online, they are checking out your social media platforms, your LinkedIn profile and the type of information that is available from Google and the other search engines. The more content they find aligning with the brand you are portraying the more successful your personal brand becomes. For your overall brand persona, the key is making sure you are who you say you are, which is mostly determined by the reputation, perceptions and image you build both on and offline.

MN:  Can celebrity brands be tarnished by a social media thread of unsavory tweets, for example Amber Rose versus the world?
CR: Celebrity brands have a fine line to balance in maintaining the authentic persona that made them a celebrity (aka “keeping it real”) while protecting their likability factor with fans and the media. A celebrity has to understand that they have two main audiences to keep happy: the fans that have followed and supported them to their celebrity status and the media.

So absolutely, celebrity brands can become tarnished from their social media rants if what they’re saying in the moment isn’t consistent with the brand they’ve convinced the world they are. Think about various iconic celebrity brands; their consistent reputations have created different expectations from their audiences. As long as they behave within the reputation they’ve built, no big deal. The minute they go outside the lines, the buzz gets chaotic.

MN: What would you tell young women on social media as it relates to showcasing their brand?
CR: For young women on social media, leverage your brand by showing the world what makes you unique and why others may want to get to know or do business with you. Use your social networks and the Internet as a platform to compete for your next career move, to leverage your business, special talents or skills. You know who you are and what you want for your brand, make sure everything you post and engage on your social platforms match the brand image you want to portray. Social media is a powerful tool, so use it to positively educate others and reinforce your offline brand reputation.

MN: Why is it important for women to have a brand coach?
CR: For women who are interested in competing to gain new business, creating new opportunities, or aligning themselves with more suitable projects, having a personal brand coach helps them find clarity and a strategy. A personal brand coach creates a strategic plan and holds them accountable towards their own personal goals. 

MN:  Should you still have a brand coach if all seems to be flowing?
CR: For women, who are flourishing in their careers, have as many ideal clients as they desire, and love the personal brand that they have created, kudos to them. They don’t need personal brand coaching. They have figured it out and found the time to maximize their brand on their own. On the other hand, if all seems to be flowing, but there is something more that you desire, or larger scale opportunities for your career, then personal brand coaching is your next step. You may want to tweak a few things to reinvent yourself, create new revenue sources, desire new or larger business opportunities for yourself, or simply re-position your brand to align it more with your passions.

MN: You’ve had to press RESET as it relates to your career. What was the first step you made to get back on track?
CR: In pressing reset in my own career, identifying my strongest talents, professional capabilities and passion and packaging those as a consultant allow me to leverage the most ideal business opportunities.  I have organically tweaked and crafted a consulting business I absolutely love which is the key to my current success.

MN: Talk to me about your proudest accomplishment?
CR: My proudest accomplishment is being my own boss. Being an entrepreneur is something I knew in middle school I would do. Once I finished graduate school and started working in media, I told myself I would give myself two years to enjoy my new six-figure salary. Two years ending up turning into three promotions in management, two relocations and almost seven years before I left to start my own company.


Courtney Rhodes’ branding #RESET: Remember your personal brand is not what you say about yourself. It is how others perceive you based on your capabilities, experience, personality, image and reputation.  You can’t control your own brand, but you get to direct it.


Karen Taylor Bass, an award winning PR Expert, media coach, best-selling author and Brand Mom. Follow Karen @thebrandnewmom.

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