A few months ago I was invited to speak on a panel about social media and personal branding at the Meredith College chapter of the AMA (American Marketing Association). One of the questions from the audience has come up since, so I wanted to address it here.
How important is consistency when it comes to your personal brand, and what do you do to maintain consistency?
Just like you can’t brand a company with three logos and two taglines, you should not brand yourself that way either. It’s confusing for your audience.
Any channel that you use for your personal brand should be consistent – same name, same avatar. For many people Facebook is an exception to this rule, which I agree with as long as you’re not using Facebook to seriously brand yourself. If you are using Facebook for professional purposes, then use consistent branding. If Facebook is just for close friends and family, do as you please (and use restrictive privacy settings).
I actually have friends who have altered their names on Facebook (like replacing their 1st names with their middle names), specifically to ensure that their Facebook accounts do not become integrated into the rest of their personal brand online.
Consistent naming is important not only for brand recognition but also for search results. When you use the same name on every channel, people are able to find and identify you. It’s much more difficult to track you down online if you’re Susie Q on Facebook, Suze_E_Q on Twitter and SoozieQue on YouTube.
Consistent branding also helps deliver a sense of professionalism.
Even if your branding is funky or spunky or downright crazy looking, you can still establish a sense of professionalism by showing brand consistency. It shows that you take your brand seriously, and that you’ve committed to a public image.
Consistency also saves you from the split personality problem that many social media users struggle with. People should feel like they’re getting a genuine sense of who you are regardless of which platform they find you on. You will not seem genuine if you are prim and proper on one channel and crude and cursing on another.
However, it is very important to note that consistency does not mean automated!
Do not post the same update on 10 different sites in the name of consistency. Have a consistent personality but tailor your messaging so that it is appropriate for each channel and each audience. That means no hashtags should show up in Facebook updates, and no tweets should be cut off because you intended the message for Facebook, and it was too long.
- Gravatar – you upload your avatar once, then it uses that same avatar for everywhere you leave an online footprint (especially helpful for posting comments around the Web).
- KnowEm – discover whether your username / personal branding name is taken or available on hundreds of sites. If it’s available, KnowEm can secure that name across all the sites for you (there is a fee for this, though).
What are other ways to be consistent in your personal branding? Also, do you think it’s important that all of the design elements are consistent as well, such as background images, fonts and color choices?
Morgan is the social media strategist at Media Two, an interactive advertising agency in downtown Raleigh. In her role at Media Two, Morgan Siem helps businesses, both B2B and B2C to leverage social media channels to meet their business goals. Morgan has worked with clients such as Microsoft Office for Mac Business Unit, Entertainment Publications, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Kindermusik International and Special Olympics of North Carolina. Morgan graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May of 2009 with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a minor in Spanish. Follow her on Twitter.