It’s not often you get to meet someone who’s Googled you! But I did… yesterday and of all places at a school graduation. Still not 100% clear how it happened but apparently he was looking for my husband, knew I ran a business and ‘vaguely’ what it was about and voila! Actually, I just tried it – Googled my name as he’d have known it and ’secretary’ and there I am in living colour!

This man – who remember I’d never met before nor he me – then went on to say how he’d checked out my site, was impressed with what he’d seen there and the articles I’d written, commenting “You’re somewhat of a celebrity in your field aren’t you?” He had obviously spent some time trawling through the info and clicking off-site links. We then got into an interesting conversation about service businesses and how they fall down in the ’service’ area in particular … but I digress.

This highlighted for me one very important thing. Watch your online brand! You have to be extremely careful that everything you put online is in line with your brand. Because you never know who might be looking at it.

I did a branding exercise recently with my top clients just to see if my brand message was clear. I asked them simply, what three words come to mind when you hear ‘Executive Stress Office Support’ or ‘Lyn Prowse-Bishop’. The results were interesting, and confirmed for me that my brand message was definitely clear and getting across to clients. The most often-reported words were: Service, Efficiency, Professionalism. These are the exact three words that I’ve spent the last 10+ years trying to have associated with my business and brand.

One company we’ve seen in the press a lot of late who seems to have lost touch with its brand message is Qantas. Reports of an exploding oxygen bottle, air turn backs, and now an engine exploding have plagued the airline whose brand was a fairly simple-t0-remember one: ‘world’s safest airline’.

Qantas could take a leaf out of Coca-Cola’s book. Those old enough to remember will recall when Coke got into a brand war with Pepsi … and lost. Pepsi’s brand was focused on taste; Coke’s on ‘the original’. When they went head-to-head against Pepsi’s own brand message they lost a significant portion of their market share … until they returned to their original brand message.

Qantas is making the same mistake. They have always been a high-end airline servicing the business and corporate travellers as well as overseas passengers with their focus on safety. It was a global reputation: I’m sure everyone remembers Rain Main and Dustin Hoffman’s comments about Qantas being the safest airline.

With the entrance of Tiger and Virgin into the domestic market in Australia, Qantas saw the loss of market share and started Jetstar. With their focus fixed almost exclusively on capturing back the lion’s share of the domestic – and low-cost – market they lost sight of their brand. Costs of running planes is the same no matter what you charge for the ticket. Cuts have to be made somewhere if all of a sudden you’re offering fares at drastically reduced prices in one area of your business in order to compete. We then saw the increase in off-shoring of maintenance and engineering in the main Qantas fleet. Makes sense economically: spend less on these areas by off-shoring and you make savings to your bottom line and can take a hit in the domestic market ticket prices.

But this has led – naturally enough – to a decline in safety standards.

In an effort to further save costs – and despite the fact that total disaster was averted in the above incidents purely due to the experience and training of Australian Qantas pilots – Qantas is now looking at off-shoring its pilots too.

So this push to compete head-to-head with other airlines on their brand has meant Qantas is going the way of Coke and losing sight of their own. Unfortunately if they don’t wake up like Coke did and get back on track with their brand the ‘world’s safest airline’ will just become another airline.

So what’s your brand message? Is it getting across? Everything you do online will either enhance your brand or destroy it. This includes social media. What you Tweet and share on Facebook is indexed and viewable (depending on privacy settings). Employers will now Google an applicant to see what their online brand is like – and potential clients are doing the same.

Be sure your brand message is clear – and once it is and working, stick with it!

©Lyn Prowse-Bishop –

Author's Bio: 

Award-winning virtual assistant, Lyn Prowse-Bishop, MVA ASO CAVB PVAA is owner/manager of Executive Stress Office Support (eSOS), specialising in medico-legal digital transcription, virtual author support and executive personal assistant services for clients around the world.

One of Queensland’s most respected and well known virtual assistants, Lyn is also founder of the Australian Virtual Business Network, serves as Australian representative on international committees looking at standards and certification for the VA industry, and is a foundation steering committee member of the annual Online International Virtual Assistants Convention. She hosts Australia’s first internet radio show/podcast for the VA industry – Virtual Business Show – and is Queensland representative on the Board of Independent Contractors Australia.

How can you spend less time in the office and more enjoying life? Visit her site or email to find out.