The Formula for Building Your Brand as a Successful Security Consultant

As Warren Buffett so famously stated, “It takes twenty minutes to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”  When other security consultants ask me about the subject of brand building, the conversation inevitably leads back to one’s reputation in the industry.  Your reputation is your brand.  You can plaster the Internet, television and print media with advertisements about your consulting abilities, but at the end of the day, it will always come back to how you have performed for your past clients.

How to Build Your Brand as a Security Consultant

So many first-time consultants try to over-compensate by “fast tracking” their name.  If you have unlimited marketing resources at your disposal, there is nothing wrong with trying to promote your brand (famed consulting guru Alan Weiss will tell you that you are not in the consulting business: you are in the marketing business).  It is an entirely different animal, however, to have limited experience and claim to be something you’re not.

In the security consulting field, I see so many consultants who claim to do it all.  They say “yes” to every requirement or inquiry that comes their way, with the intention of simply sub-contracting the actual work to someone else.  I have been leery of these “do it all” firms – particularly when the consultant is a one-man shop operating out of his bedroom.  The security consulting industry should be held to the same high standards of that of management consultants, attorneys, or other service providers.  As such, security consultants should be promoting their image as “trusted C-suite advisors,” rather than knuckle-dragging bodyguards, middlemen/fixers, or “ground-pounders.”

I’ve coined my own formula of what it takes to build a successful brand in the global security consulting industry.  This equation is broken down as follows:

Successful Brand = Positive Reputation + Client Referrals + Industry Recognition

Providing Consistent VALUABLE Content

(blogs, articles, interviews, speeches, books, videos, pro bono/charity work, etc.)

The key to this formula is consistency.  Good things often take time.  More importantly, if during your consistent climb towards building your brand, you stumble and upset a client, you must quickly make amends and turn a negative into a positive.  Otherwise, as Warren Buffett says, you can ruin your brand in five minutes.

So how do you know if you have a successful security consulting brand?  The answer is simple.  If your clients – and your prospective clients – face a problem or crisis, they should say, “Quick, get me (your name) on the phone right now!”  Until that day, stick the formula and remember that you are your brand.