Today, brands are everywhere; the water we drink is branded, the vegetables we eat are branded, the paper we print on is branded, even the socks we wear are branded!
Yes, it’s a “brand” new world.
The importance of branding
Branding is very important because it sets people’s expectations and creates an emotional attachment to products and companies. Well branded products convey a sense of higher quality, even when the quality of the physical product being sold is known to be low-end. A good example is Ikea—while their furniture is famous for being affordable, the company’s brand is so strong that people are likely to trust it over another affordable furniture store.
While most companies have figured out the importance of branding their products, services and corporate culture, it’s time for us individuals to realize that it’s not just corporations and products that need to be branded.
We as individuals need to brand ourselves too. Personal branding might already happen on a sub-conscious level, through our choice of clothes, friends and music, just to name a few. We need to take this subconscious effort and turn it into a conscious exercise to establish for ourselves a consistent image.
Sticking Out on the Web
One of the most important facets of personal branding is establishing a strong identity online. The internet is a very essential platform for an individual’s image, on both personal and business levels. So how do you brand yourself online?
Here is our guide…
How to Brand Yourself Online
1. Take a minute and think of your top five personal attributes.
Are you creative? Passionate? Messy? Geeky? Trustworthy? Sophisticated? Do you know every Star Wars character since the dawn of time?
Write your strongest personality attributes. Narrow them down. Read them again and add more. Keep working on the list until you’re comfortable with five attributes that you think (or want to) define your personality. Don’t be shy—a brand is a promise, so set the attributes that you want to be associated with. They are your goals.
2. Expose. Amplify. Refine.
Now that you know what your personal attributes are, use the internet, social media in particular, to build on these attributes and broadcast them to the world. Be conscious of the words you use—try to think of the vocabulary that reflects your attributes. For example, if one of your attributes is passion, use passionate phrases like “I love…”, “It was incredible…”, etc.
3. Consistency is key.
Consistency is the Holy Grail of applying your brand. Choose an image of yourself that reflects at least three of your attribute and PLASTER IT EVERYWHERE. Use it as your Facebook profile picture, your Twitter avatar, and your website’s “About” image. This image is your ID online, and even offline, when you can help it.
Always spell your name or nickname the same way, regardless of where. Use the same user ID across websites that require them.
You can go further and hire someone to design a set of visuals that you can also use consistently as backgrounds online.
4. Paint the town you.
The town is the internet, and you are its citizen. If you hear of a new website that seems to have potential, register as soon as you can. Follow forums, blogs and groups that are related to your attributes or profession, and be an active part of their communities. Make sure your voice is heard.
Be all over. Persistence sounds easy, but it takes effort, time, and tons and tons of patience.
5. Wear the shoes of a socialite.
Unless your brand attributes are along the lines of arrogance or introversion (and there’s nothing wrong with that, think of Simon Cowell!), put on your socialite shoes and learn to be a good host.
Thank people if they roll your topics on Twitter. Offer to help if an active reader of your blog has a problem that you can solve without much time and effort. You can even take it offline—take someone in your online community out for coffee.
Even on the Web, small gestures can make a huge difference, and branding is about creating attachments, so create them.
Your Personal Brand Online…
The key to personal branding, both online and offline, is appreciating the fact that it’s about the long-term objectives. Eying a job as a Social Media Marketer? Well, write about social media marketing! Start a blog. Update your Facebook status with weekly messages about that topic. Share interesting links about social media on Twitter. It won’t pay off immediately, but in a few months, when you’re applying for that job, it might make all the difference.
A solidly developed personal brand will give your name that zing.
If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to Beirut’s “10 Tips on Reinventing Yourself through Social Media!” to learn further about the other side of what the Web can do for you. Rather than amplify pre-existing personal attributes, it can also reinvent them.
Do you have any stories or ideas about branding yourself online?