Personal branding: the art of being yourself – part 2: your brand name and avatar

As you've read my previous post on the importance of personal branding (hopefully); I'm sure you've been waiting for the second part of my tips on your personal brand name and logo/avatar (hopefully). So without further ado, read on...  

Your Brand Name:

In its simplest easiest forms, this can be your own name. However, the thing is your name might be special to you, but it would mean nothing to most other people. Unless you're creating your brand to make your family name recognized and popular, perhaps also for business use, I do recommend that you get yourself a witty nickname. Take mine for example, "The Manalyst". You won't believe how many times I got really great feedback over the way I used my name to create a brand name that represents who I am ingeniously. They also ask why I called myself The Manalyst and where it was inspired from so think of it as a conversation starter. Now imagine if I plainly used my own name "Manal Assaad"… What comment can you actually pass on that?! Okay I have some really nasty comments that I can say about my own name spelling in English, such luck I have. So think of a creative way to represent your name. Some personal brands I came across of and liked are "Zenology" and "AskAaronLee" both on Twitter. 

You have to really think hard about this one, because whatever you choose, you need to stick with it for a really long time and use it across all social networks whether in Names, Nicknames, email addresses, or profiles URL. 

Your Logo/Avatar: 

Here is where you can actually get visually creative and might even have to do some designing. Most importantly, you need some really good clear shots of your SMILEY face. You might be lucky and have some photographers in your friends and use them to take some good shots of your portrait, otherwise a camera phone works out fine –that's the only thing I use actually and so far I got no complaints :P–. 

Let me stress this enough here: NO MUG SHOTS OR PASSPORT ID PHOTOS OR NAUGHTY PHOTOS IN YOUR BEDROOM! I hope it was clear… Also, don't use generic pictures of nature, kids, celebrities –unless you are that celebrity, in which case: hi, can I have your autograph!–, etc. because people need to see the person they are interacting with in order to build trust. 

Another alternative to having your own personal photo if you are not comfortable with it is to use a photo of an item that represents you very well. Like choose something that you really like and have passion for, or have a certain meaning to you… but the connection has to be very obvious or publicized that your own name will be coined with that photo… Think in terms of how tissues actually mean Kleenex to almost everyone. 

Third alternative, which is mostly for professional use, is to have your own logo. Here if you don't have any designing skills, try to get a friend who could help you with it, someone who knows you and understands you enough to get it right or who you can torture until he/she gets it right. If you want to take this very seriously, you may also pay a freelance designer to help you with it. 

Finally, whatever you settle on, you use it on all social networks at the same time. You may change them all periodically but better keep them in sync. 

Now that you have your brand name and logo/avatar, last thing to add to the mix is your own personality, and here I recommend strongly that you just be yourself. However, if you're an offensive obnoxious jerk, you might want to work on changing your personality… unless you're funny, because surprisingly that works for some people! 

Personal branding: the art of being yourself - PART 1: why you need a personal brand

You don't have to be in the marketing field to understand what a brand is. Most probably, you have been a brand all your life and you don't even realize it. Whether you are the cool funny person in your family, the geek in the office, the go-to guy or girl in your click, or the troublemaker in your neighborhood, chances are you have been branded with some label… quite possibly some people have even branded you behind your back with labels I can't point out here...

Those brands were usually just known among our family members, friends, and people who are in our social or professional circles. However, now with our social and professional circles reaching as far as the world can go through our online social networks, you can actually get the chance to present your personal brand the way you want the world to see it.

Keeping the technical terms to a minimum, the key features of a brand are the name, image and personality. Here, I try to give you a few tips on how to make your personal brand -aka yourself- into an art, with a purpose of course because let's admit that as much as Picasso's paintings are a form of art, probably most of the normal population have no idea what the heck is going on in those paintings… But I digress.

In part 1 of my post about Personal Branding, let me point out some of the reasons you need to brand yourself for:

  • A unified online existence. This way it would be easier for people to find you on the various social networks -given that you want to be found!- and be able to recognize you on any channel online from the first glance. It gives you a unique character that is YOU and you won't have people mistaking someone else for you -unless it's someone very rich, good-looking and important in which case you should be flattered :P… Just kidding-.
  • A testimony of expertise and professionalism. Even though you, yourself, are not a company, you are still selling something: You're selling your expertise, your professional services, your work attitude, and all the other traits that get you the job/salary/benefits/business deals you want.  As a job seeker, it is not a secret that recruiters and employers are now digging into your online profiles to make a final decision of whether to hire you or not, and seeing conformity and originality in your online existence will surely give you an edge. As a professional, people who are deciding whether to work with you and trust your opinions and expertise will firmly build their judgment of you from the way you express yourself online and convey your image.
  • A good base for future benefit. You might still be just a college student and think it's way too early to concern yourself with a personal brand, but this is just another reason to start now! Just imagine how much credibility you would gain if you were actually able to successfully create and maintain your own brand. You might think it might never come in use… but hey, what do you have to lose! Everything is basically free. It doesn't really matter what profession you'll end up in, because almost every career in the world requires a distinguished personality.
  • Simply because it's a fun and creative way to express yourself… and that's that!

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I give tips about how to choose your brand name and avatar/logo.

If you liked this post, be kind enough to comment and/or share it with others who might like it.

Top 5 Smartest Brands

I'm a branding fanatic, thankfully not a brand addict or I'd go very broke very fast. You would think that unless you're in marketing, you wouldn't care much about brands and the philosophy that goes behind them, but we're all parts of brands whether we know it, want it, or can't care less about it!

In my daily interactions with brands as a consumer (or usually an observer, depends on how much cash I have), I've come to think of brands as people: they can be funny or serious, interesting or boring, stupid or smart...

I thought it would be fun if I made a list of brands that I think are smart, whether seriously or sarcastically. Try to figure out which is which since I still couldn't buy the SarcMark.

5 Facebook

It has come a long way since 2007 with over 400 million users as per its latest statistics. It's a brand that managed to convince over 400 million people worldwide of the "necessity" of belonging to it, and coming in interaction with it by using it for 55 minutes a day on average. It started as a closed network for Ivy League University students, grew into a wider network for family, friends, colleagues, and classmates, and now it has developed into a book of records where the world posts its status updates, photos, videos, links, and others, and basically lay your life out there for everyone to see. How smart is it really? Well I recall getting to know someone on Twitter and asking him to connect on Facebook, to which he said he doesn't have a facebook, to which I replied: "OH MY GOD! Who doesn't have a Facebook in these times?! It's a MUST!". He asked why it's a must, I couldn't give a satisfactory answer in 140 character, and that's why Facebook is ranked 5.

4 FarmVille

Why is it smart? Apparently because it has convinced over 80 million people that online farming is so cool and irresistible that they have to spend hours every day tending to it, and making it bigger and bigger as if the end prize is actually a real farm of its equivalence. I find it smart how 80 million people find it more enjoyable to make a hundred clicks a day at a cold screen than to buy a small plant, water it every other day and actually see it and feel it grow. Why is it smarter than Facebook? because I suspect that those users spending 55 minutes on Facebook spend that time farming, harvesting, milking cows, finding stray animals and sending them as gifts to those who haven't converted to "FarmVillism" yet.

3 Twitter

Twitter started in 2008 as a means for people to update their statuses in 140 characters or less with personal information (where they are, what they are eating, what they are doing, etc.) for their family and friends to read. However, now, that's practically the one reason you won't be using Twitter for! Now, Twitter has an army of 3rd applications supporting many uses to make it much more than just a 140 characters status updating tool, and 10 Billion tweets are there to prove it. It's becoming much more like Facebook but without the annoyance of having to ignore requests from friends and strangers that you don't really want to connect with, and also very useful if you just want to connect to someone without giving them the choice to ignore you. Yeah, it goes both ways! So it's smarter than Facebook because it became huge with out actually putting forth much effort, you gotta appreciate that!

2 Google

Why is Google smart? Seriously? Just google that question and you'll definitely get an answer! Oh, hold on, let me try it. Ok, I got 119,000,000 results but none of them really answers the question so let me do it. Google basically has become the equivalent of internet. Can you actually think of internet without getting the image of Google as the homepage?! That's just from the personal perspective. On the business level, all websites are fighting and competing for Google's attention as if nothing exists beyond it. Not to mention all the services that Google has (Google Docs, Google Maps, etc) that basically you'd find it hard to function without. So with such huge signficance why isn't it number 1?! Well have you seen Google Buzz!

1 Apple

Why is it smart?! Ask any Apple user, but get ready for a 30 minutes enthusiastic monologue on the greatness and awesomeness of Apple products! There's just something about Apple that turns its users into fanatics whose answer for ANY problem is "Get an iPhone/Mac/iPod...". Try it. Strategically distance yourself within an earshot of an Apple user and complain about something random like "I had trouble waking up early today and my coffee was too hot", they'd hurry over to you and excitingly suggest you get an iPhone, because, after all, there must be an app for that! So, yes, Apple is the smartest brand of all time because of its effortless ability to turn every consumer into an annoying persistent sales representative, and that not only without paying them to do so, but by even overcharging them for products!

So those were what I consider to be the top 5 smartest brands. What are yours? And in what order?