We all know what a brand is and when thinking about brands, the first few that come to mind are Apple, Coca Cola and even Cadbury’s. We’d recognise their logo anywhere, their font and even their colour-scheme.
But branding no longer solely belongs to companies on the stock exchange and you don’t have to have a company worth billions to have a great brand image. Because of social media and the internet, we now all have personal brands out there for the world to see. Even if you don’t think you have one – you do.
When it comes to personal branding, you need to think about your digital footprint. What comes up when someone Googles you? What links are they met with, what images and what social media profiles? It’s common knowledge now that every employer you apply to work for will Google your name. Because you know that, you should make sure that you are determining what appears first on the Google results page and what your employer or any stalker out there finds.
Think of Joe from the Netflix series ‘You’ for example. If you haven’t watched it, within the first few episodes Joe meets a girl called Beck. All he needed was her first name and from a quick search online he was able to find out where she lived, where and what she studied, who her friends were, her ex-boyfriends, where she liked to eat and where she worked. It may have seemed creepy at the time but it was incredibly realistic.
I’ve (not-ashamedly) done my fair bit of online stalking in the past, trying to find out as much information as possible about someone and my friends have even given me the task of finding out about people that they have their eye on. It’s not that hard if you know where and how to look. Sometimes I’ve considered applying for a job at the CIA.
But before you go blaming the stalker, take a look at your social media accounts. What information do you have on there that is readily available to the wandering searcher. Looking at mine, I have my name, age, where and what I study, where I work, the restaurants I go to, the bars you can usually find me in and the coffee shop I’m usually sat in working all online as public information. If someone wanted to find me, they very likely could. And it would probably take them all of five minutes to find out all of the information I’ve just mentioned.
I am clearly not a prime example of social security 101, but I do know not to share my bank details. That’s the most important thing, right? Someone could probably find me and murder me but as long as they don’t touch the £12.48 in my bank account, I’m not worried.
How to improve your personal brand
Your personal brand is how people perceive you online. Be that your friends, strangers or connections through social media. What kind of vibe do you give off? What do you tweet about, what do you post on Instagram and what subjects do you write about?
Professional social media accounts
The first step to improving your personal brand (in a professional manner) is by creating professional social media accounts and making your personal ones private.
I have two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts, a personal Facebook page and a Facebook Business page. Am I the same person across all accounts? Yes I am. Do I post the same content across all accounts? Absolutely not.
My personal Twitter and Instagram accounts are based around my friends and people I know. I tweet about my day, tweet musicians that I like and mostly retweet funny memes or videos. I’ve had this Twitter account for nine years – yes, honestly – and have amassed over 57,000 tweets. I used to live and breathe Twitter before Instagram came around but I soon realised that I needed to make a professional Twitter so that I could interact with other PR professionals, bloggers and creators and so that my brand was solely based around my blog and career in PR.
When it comes to your blog
The best thing to do when you want to improve the branding of your blog is to look at other blogs. NOT to copy other blogs but to take inspiration. What strikes you about their blog? Do they have a consistent colour scheme? Consistent posting schedule? Is their tone of voice consistent? And do their social media profiles match their blog?
Create a little mind map when thinking about your own blog branding. What colours pop out at you most? What kinds of images? What themes do your posts take on? What kind of font can you envision for your blog?
You can hire someone to work out your theme and branding for you, but the only person that knows what is going to work best is you. You know who you are more than anyone so only you can now how to represent yourself through the face of your blog.
Think of your blog as your shop window. You want people to come in and take a further look at what you’ve got inside, so make your homepage pop. Make sure it’s easy to navigate and that any visitor can find everything that they need easily.
Get yo’ self out there
What’s a brand without brand awareness? Get yourself and your brand out there for people to see. Guest post on other blogs, be interviewed by other bloggers, have bloggers add links to your site on theirs and best of all, get involved in conversations.
The more you interact within your niche/community, the more people are going to remember and recognise your name. You can also make some great contacts this way which can help with the tips in the previous paragraph. Make sure to come across as knowledgeable in your field and give your opinions, share your thoughts but don’t overstep the mark.
Think of it this way: if you wouldn’t be happy with your gran reading it, don’t tweet it. Or blog it. No cursing around here sir. (Well, only when necessary).
Your brand can be offline too
Think of Anna Wintour. We wouldn’t expect to see her without her signature bob haircut and huge sunglasses, because that’s her brand. Simon Cowell and those light-wash jeans and white t-shirt? That’s his brand too. Gemma Collins and her diva antics? That’s her brand.
Your personal brand could come from you choosing to only wear black clothing for the rest of your life. It could come from you having a certain hairstyle that isn’t like anyone else’s or just remains the same.
The way you dress, the way you present yourself, your features and even how you act on a daily basis can all affect your personal brand. Just make sure you stay true to yourself and if you’re going to commit to one haircut for the rest of your life, I wish you the best of luck!
But do I really need a personal brand?
You don’t need one, you have one. If you own a blog or any social media accounts, that is your personal brand. You’re putting content into the world and sharing in a social space. Everything that you publish has something to say about you.
They key is to recognise this personal brand and shape it into what you want it to be. Give yourself an alias, kind of like I have with Orlagh Claire. When people think of this, they think of my blog, not specifically me as a person. Be it your Sacha Fierce persona, if you will.
One wrong move and you could destroy your entire image that you never realised that you had. I’ll give you a prime example. Two boys from my hometown tweeted something that they shouldn’t have a few years ago. They had no idea that their tweets would go viral (for all the wrong reasons). They were forced to delete their accounts due to death threats and hate messages. They were even all over the news as what they tweeted about was very much in the public interest at the time. Now every time those boys go to apply for jobs, their recruiter is going to Google their names and these stories are what they will find.
However, for one of the boys, he went viral for a second time but for the right reasons. A trick-shot in our local Tesco store meant that his Google results page is a mixture of both positive and negative news stories. The more publicity he can gain for positive acts, the further he can push the ill-decided tweet into the past.
In this digital age, take advantage of everything available to you. Don’t say or do things you shouldn’t online, because it will never go away. Do try and shape the results that appear with a Google of your name. For more tips on personal branding and how to improve yours, check out my #FridayFive post here.