The Importance of Public Image for Business Owners

As anyone who has ever had a job can confirm, when you work for a particular business, you represent that company. Your behavior while on the clock or uniform reflects not only on you personally but on the business and the brand at large. Some such actions are merely questionable, such as a Pepsi employee in his or her Pepsi uniform buying a Coca-Cola at a convenience store. Others are more egregious, such as a front-line employee arguing with or berating a customer of the business.

A business owner, however, always represents his or her company, especially those owners who are well-known in their communities or industries. No matter where an owner happens to be, anything he or she says or does could have a direct impact on how people see the brand and the business. As a business owner myself, I am acutely aware of how my actions could affect my practice, even when I am on my own personal time. Two recent examples highlight this issue quite well—one on either end of the spectrum.

Troubles Continue for “Papa John”

Late last year, I wrote a blog that talked about how John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s, had come under fire for comments he made during a conference call with shareholders and investors. During that call, Schnatter had blamed the pizza company’s struggling sales numbers on the National Football League (NFL), at least in part. He claimed that the controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem was alienating NFL television viewers which, in turn, affected his company’s sales. The company apologized quickly for Schnatter’s comments and largely backed away from them.

John Schnatter was back in the news again last week for his comments on another conference call. This time, he reportedly used an inflammatory racial slur while taking part in a role-playing exercise. While he claimed that his use of the slur was meant to show his opposition to racism, others on the call were offended. In the wake of the renewed controversy, Schnatter resigned as CEO. This week, Papa John’s announced that he has been kicked out of his office at the company’s Louisville KY headquarters and that his image will no longer be used in marketing materials.

Warren Buffet Donates Billions

One of the most successful investors in the history of the world is also one of the most generous people to have ever lived. The “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffet recently announced his annual donation—an event that usually makes headlines due to the sheer amount of money involved. This year, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. donated approximately 17.7 million shares of Berkshire, each of which was valued at $192 earlier this week. The total estimated value of the donation is about $3.4 billion.

Five charities will share the donation, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The other recipients are his own foundation, named for his deceased first wife, and charities run by his three children. This year’s donation exceeds the $3.17 billion he made last year, and brings his total since 2006 to more than $30.9 billion.

Contact Us for Help Today

If you have questions about maintaining a positive public image both within and outside of your business, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney. Call 630-756-1160 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.



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