If You Don’t Clean Up Your Image Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

clean up time

In an ideal world everyone would know you for all the great things you have done and they wouldn’t know about the bad things that you may have done in the past. The problem is that some people, such as Ted Kaczynski have a tainted personal brand. In some cases it can be almost impossible to reverse the negative connotation with a personal brand, but here are some things you can do to help clean up your brand.

Stop ignoring and start responding
When people start slandering your name your gut reaction is probably to ignore it and hope it dies down. The problem with this approach is that it can lead to people that don’t even know you looking at you in a negative way. Instead of just ignoring the problem you should respond to them in an apologetic fashion and let them know you are listening to them and trying to fix the problem or issue that they have brought up. By doing this you are letting people know that you are listening which might start changing their perception.

If you have had people slandering your name in the past and you ignored it, go back and respond. It is never too late to try and fix your name.

Start doing some good
If you want to have your personal brand looked upon positively start helping others out. This could be anything from volunteering your time at a homeless shelter or simply just helping out people in your industry for free. Whatever the thing maybe it will just help combat the bad perception people have and it will even start creating a positive perception. Just make sure you are being genuine with your actions.

First impressions are the most important ones
Usually if you are branded in a negative way the search results are filled with these negative incidents. The last thing you want is for someone who is looking to learn more about you to search for you name on Google and find results that may look poorly on you. For example, I am known as a princess and when you search for “Neil Patel” there is a result that claims I am a princess. I personally don’t care about being called a princess but if I did I would flood the search results with more positive results. I would create blogs on all the major sites such as WordPress.com as well as create profiles on all the social sites like Netscape using my real name. Then I would try and increase the amount of links going to these profiles which would cause them to rank high for the term “Neil Patel” and would cause the princess result to disappear. 🙂

It may seem easy to flood the search results to improve your image, but it can also backfire. If you create profiles that can be modified by the public such as a Wikipedia entry random people can go in and edit the page to include all of the bad stuff you did in the past. So be careful when doing this.

Stop giving people more ammo
For you to create a positive brand you can’t give people anymore ammunition that will let them talk about your name in a negative way. So whatever you did in the past that caused people to slander you name, make sure you don’t do it again. Sounds simple, but people make this mistake every minute of every day.

Trying to reverse what people think of you isn’t an easy thing to do. It takes much more work trying to go from having a bad image to a good image than actually starting from scratch. This shouldn’t stop you from trying to create a positive brand, but since the damage has already been done you are going to have to put in countless hours and wait months if not years before you see the fruits of your labor.

P.S. For more tips on having an appealing image go here.


  1. Repairing a bad image is one of the most difficult parts I think. Because you have just one name, you should be careful about the choice of technique you use to fight a bad situation.

    The best one is to not fight it, but to turn it into a success story like you did with the princess-photo, Neil.
    If you don’t care, it’s much easier, but if you feel personally attacked by it, you should probably make a step back and think about possibilities instead of disadvantages.

  2. Keith miller :

    The headline “Stop giving people more ammo” should be at the top of this article. To me it seems to be the root and the first step to changing your reputation. You have to humble yourself and genuinely change your ways (stop giving people ammo) before any of the other steps to improve your personal brand will have a lasting impact.

  3. Good point Keith, I should have put it at the top.

  4. A “prince” of a post Neil. I look forward to meeting you at SMX.

  5. I looked you up in Wikipedia Neil, it seems you are a “prolific, award-winning American scenic designer.” from Bangor in Wales… at last we know the REAL Neil Patel 🙂


  6. LOL. I don’t have a Wikipedia page on me yet… hopefully someone creates one in the near future.

  7. From: From the Desk of Gang0rraZ
    The Internet
    Sunday, 8:36 PM

    Dear Neil,

    I hate to say this but after reading all your posts so far, I could not find any useful information on how to actually make money with fame. I hope you seriously address this in future articles. Keep up the good work!

    Your fan,

  8. GangorraZ, I appreciate the input. For week 1 of the launch I just wanted to cover some ways to increase your fame and in week 2 I will get into making money from fame. 🙂

  9. Bill Hartzer :

    Great post as always, Neil. It’s definitely worth it to set up some “Alerts” with your name and other IDs that you should track. I have several Google Alerts set up.

    Online reputation management applies not only to your name, it also applies to company names–as well as your ID, such as the the ID you’re using right now in the social bookmarking/social networking communities.

    It’s helpful to use the same ID on all the social networking sites since those will contribute most likely to positive pages showing up the search results rather than negative ones.

  10. Geordie Carswell :

    GangorraZ, you can’t monetise what you haven’t got….

  11. KindAndThoughtful :

    Thanks for another great posting. Your blog should be required reading at all business schools.

    I would like to add a comment. A business professor once told me that all the advertising and marketing in the world can’t help a bad product. So, my advice to everyone out there is first make sure you have a great product or service. Then, and only then, market and brand the heck out of it.

  12. Imran Rafique :


    What is your opinion then regarding publicity. Is any publicity good publicity?

  13. I think that most publicity is good publicity, but not all. To give you an extreme case, if you are associated with being a terrorist that would not be considered good publicity in my mind.

  14. Yeah, that’s an understatement that Ted Kaczynski has a tainted personal brand 🙂

  15. I have seen the first one on you Neil, i.e. Stop ignoring and start responding. And I believe this is the must have thing to be successful in any business.

  16. Benjamin Fox :

    I couldn’t agree more with number 1 – especially if you know you’re in the wrong. If you make a mistake, remember that the Internet never forgets. All you can do is (sincerely) apologize, since your mistake will never go away. Great post, Neil – thanks for the insight.

  17. CloudTrance :

    Personal Branding has now become part and parcel of climbing up the ladder. Nice thoughts on this blog Neil.

  18. Sounds simple… but what if you didn’t do ANYTHING wrong?! I acquired a stalker online. We aren’t dealing with a normal person here. She is a pathological lying NUT CASE. She posts her lies as facts on a daily basis. She FOLLOWS me around the Internet! She has trashed my online selling IDs, websites, family and my employer. She goes as far as to impersonate me. I would have to be on the computer 24/7 to combat her garbage!

  19. Most people build a personal brand, I have seen the first one on Matt cutts, So Stop ignoring and start responding. And I believe this is the must have thing to be successful in any business.

  20. good post, there are some things that have to br done in the same moment you see the mistake

  21. You make some great points here. I actually heard on the news recently that 75% of children these days will have to change their name to escape what the did in the past on the internet. You were quite ahead of that story. if you haven’t read the story you can find it on techdirt.

  22. College textbooks :

    You couldn’t be more right about this. I also saw where steve jobs said that children this day in age will have to change there name and somewhat identity because of the web and they stupid things they will and do. It is a shame but the internet has an enormous memory.

  23. Hello Neil,

    Your tips are awesome but some people never stop ignore, Because other people insist to them same. But Good task could perform by anyone such as be polite to every one.

    • Definitely, you should always be polite to others and never ignore the thoughts and feedback others throw your way.

  24. online examination system :

    Making a good response will make you to respect…:)

  25. I couldn’t agree more with number 1 – especially if you know you’re in the wrong. If you make a mistake, remember that the Internet never forgets.

  26. Cashceejay@ make money online :

    This is so so true! If one is planning to build reputation. This is a must do. It should be put in the to-do-list.

  27. Executive Programs :

    Giving good response to others will make you to have respect.

  28. RichPeopleThings :

    It’s actually not that hard to repair your personal brand as long as you keep responding to people

  29. Giving Value of People Time Is The Great Way To Make Itself.

  30. Clipping Path :

    I will really appreciate the writer’s selection for choosing this great article.Here is deep description about the article’s title.

  31. Ulyses Osuna :

    I know someone who is very successful but can’t quite get out of the water because of the negative connotation of his brand. It takes years to build but can be gone in an instant.

    I also should have read this earlier because earlier in the year I had a few negative comments about me and instead of responding the right away I tried to disprove them in-front of everyone. It worked but I was still seen as a jerk. I went back and apologized and instead asked them how I could improve.

    This works out much better. Like you said – the money is in the people who don’t buy.

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