I like to think that I have a good sense of humor and believe that there is room for friendliness in a professional relationship. But I’ll admit to being surprised, and not in a good way, when after sending a thank you email to an events planner I’m working with, I got this response: "Always at your service, mylady[sic]." I’ve only been conversing with this person for a couple of months, and we certainly are not at that level of friendliness (although, as a friend of mine pointed out, a comment like this really only would have been appropriate had I signed off on my email "Until the morrow, my lord.").
But all joking aside, most of my Facebook friends agreed that this crossed the line. It inspired Christine Pilch‘s post "Avoiding inappropriateness to safeguard your brand," where she makes this important point (see her full post for the second example):
"Both of the above examples were likely innocent mistakes, however they illustrate how easy it is to damage your reputation by simply crossing a line. Your reputation is very closely intertwined with your brand, which is a reflection of your constituency’s perception of you. To illustrate my point, consider how BP’s reputation over the past 3-months has affected their brand.
Your brand is critical, so be careful to avoid any inappropriateness that could potentially damage it. Resist the temptation to be cute because it might not be perceived that way on the other end."