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Building a Consistent Personal Brand

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.

Here are two sites that can help you to build a consistent brand:

  1. 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).
  2. 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?

Author

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.

Related posts:

  1. Keep Your Online Brand Consistent
  2. What Facebook’s updates mean to your personal brand
  3. Building a Brand, not a Business

5 Responses to “Building a Consistent Personal Brand”

  1. avatar Karl Sakas says:

    Morgan, I agree about using consistent avatar photos — when I meet people “in real life,” I’m surprised how many have said, “You look just like your photo!”

    I haven’t registered my “KarlSakas” username across the entire social web (either manually or using a service like KnowEm), partly because I often have another username on the sites already.

    I can see the benefit of staking my claim on every network (we don’t know what’s going to be hot a year from now) but I’m not convinced it’s absolutely necessary (and I’d rather not exponentially increase my monitoring workload). Fortunately, my name is fairly uncommon.

  2. avatar Phil Buckley says:

    Great post Morgan. I love that you acknowledge that a person’s brand doesn’t have to be stuffy to be professional. One of my favorite brands in the blogosphere is Lisa Barone. She’s smart and insightful while being funny and sarcastic – and on Twitter she’s even stranger, but I never miss her articles. I thought she had an interesting comment once on her personal brand, it’s just her, except a little bit more volume.

  3. avatar Lew Sauder says:

    This is sage advice that college students should consider early in their college careers. Students should take great care in what they post on Facebook with the idea that any prospective employer may see it someday. They don’t always have control over that when they are tagged by friends in potentially compromising situations. It’s best to avoid those situations, but it tends to occur in the normal progression of having fun in college. Your advice of having an alternate “brand name” is a great idea.
    Lew Sauder, Author, Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting (www.Consulting101Book.com)

  4. avatar Morgan Siem says:

    Thanks for the comments.
    Phil – Great quote from Lisa Barone. She is a great example of someone who has created an authentic and consistent personal brand across channels.
    Lew – Your comment reminds me of when I was just out of college and searching for a job. An employer told me that he didn’t so much care if college students had too much to drinks sometimes, he just wanted to see that they were able to keep that information from being readily available online. He didn’t care if you had unprofessional pictures on facebook, he just cared if you were smart enough to keep those pictures private and serve as gatekeeper for who can and cannot access them.
    Karl – you make the important point that for some people “staking your claim” is easier than for others. I’ve been lucky, too, that no one else online seems to be laying claim to my name.

  5. [...] Your profile name should match your brand name. For instance, let’s say we’re talking about a personal brand. If my personal brand is Morgan Siem, then my twitter name and Facebook name should be the same, not something like @TarHeelChick or @RaleighOutdoorsLover. Here’s a blog post that addresses this: Building a Consistent Personal Brand. [...]

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