Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Building Your Test Brand

#softwaretesting #SocialMedia

Or... "Everything you wanted to know about being a trusted tester but were afraid to ask!" (nearly)

Is this something for me?

If you’re a test engineer – at whatever level of experience in whatever field of work – I’d say yes.


Building your brand can be interpreted in many different ways. Some of them being:-

  • Self-promotion
  • Becoming a trusted source of information
  • Bragging

I’m really only interested in the 2nd point – there's a fine, but distinct, line between the 1st and 3rd point, but those are probably more useful if you looking for a job or selling something – and that’s another story.

So, I’d think of building my (or anyone else’s) testing brand as point 2 – being a reliable, consistent and, ultimately, trusted source of information – i.e. opinions, test results, reports, data, interpretation along with conclusions and recommendations.

Being a trusted source is not about being an expert (experts can build their “expert” brand) – it’s more about describing the world as you see it and being accepted/known that that is what you do.


Every tester can probably tell an unhappy story involving tight timescales, project/customer pressure, etc, etc.

Pressure is always placed on the “test organization” – whether it’s a development project, customer roll-out activity or even customer demonstrations – you could say it almost goes with the territory.

As the tester is usually placed in this situation then it is very important that they are a constant in a sea of variables – that their assessments and reports (even problem reports and observations) are consistent and reliable.

The reports from the test organization are an input (nothing more grand than that) to the decision makers (project and product owners) about whether sufficient criteria have been met to progress to the next phase with this release.

Therefore, it is very important that the results and reports from the tester/test organization are consistent and reliable. It’s just as important that your views are known to be consistent and reliable.


Consistency and reliability are key factors.


Consistent in approach, reporting of results, observations and issues.


Telling the “truth” as you see it – or what you believe. It doesn’t matter if no one agrees with it (although if you’re outnumbered 100 to 1 it doesn’t harm to double check your conclusions) – you’ll be trusted more for an honest opinion rather than stating what you think someone wants to hear.

Lack of information?

If you’re unsure about something, then say so. If a recommendation can’t be made due to lack of data, say so and if further investigation is needed then state it. If the information is incomplete, then communicate this.

Open Questions?

It’s better to give an answer with a caveat of a lot of open questions (if that’s what you think is relevant) – it might be frustrating to the recipient to get more questions than answers – but describing the world as you see it will bring you more “long-term” friends.

Remember: Question to clarify, question to investigate, question to progress and question to learn.

Social Media?

In today’s world of increased use of social media it’s possible to ask if there is a separate dimension here. In some respects your brand is what it is “perceived” to be – i.e. your interaction in/with social media can affect how you are perceived.

The use of different electronic media can be used to build a brand – in terms of self-promotion.

However, the bottom line remains true – consistency and reliability – whether you are interacting by email, message boards, wikis, online forums or any other electronic media.

If you apply the ideas of consistency and reliability to your communication then you’ll also be perceived by those principles (maybe not by all and not at the same time.) That’s the future-proof route for self-promotion.

These ideas can equally apply to more areas and roles than just testers…

How do you build your brand?


  1. Great post and something I've been researching and analyzing for some time now. Social media and testing are very closely linked. More closely linked than many would imagine.

    Some excellent points made.

    I look forward to reading more from you.



  2. Thanks Rob. Glad to hear someone else is looking at social media and testing - I think there's a lot of untapped scope there.

    I started thinking about dynamic team set-ups using social media in an earlier post:


    I think this dynamism is drifting more into something called "emergence".

  3. Building your brand successfully might involve identifying yourself a little more prominently (and by more than just your first name) on your blog. :) You've written some good stuff here; step up and take credit for it!

    ---Michael B.

  4. As usual, wise words from Michael. Thanks.
    Will rectify.

  5. Good points. I shudder at the thought of bragging. I just can't bring myself to do it. However, I don't see self-promotion as being separate from becoming a trusted source of information.

    We should promote ourselves *by* becoming a trusted source.