Managing Your Brand (NAME) In Cyberspace

image of a redhot branding iron

It was innocent enough; a college friend left a comment on Facebook, using my full given name.

No problem, right?

Wrong! I was mortified.

There are very few places I use my full first name. If and when I do, those places include government forms, maybe medical forms, but that is it! Everywhere else, my name appears as “Mel” – and there’s a reason for it – “Mel Hopkins” is my Brand name.

“Mel Hopkins” is my ‘trademark’ attached to my Brand Identity.

For example, if you Google “Mel Hopkins” (with the moderate safe search on ;-)) on the first page, you should find a Wales international football player with the same name and me. We are battling supremacy for the search engine. He may win. He has a Wikipedia page. Further, you will notice that each of my links is related to my professional endeavors. Even the social networking pages where I’m listed indicate I’m a writer.

If you haven’t noticed it yet – YOU also have a name associated with the BRAND that is YOU.

Let’s review the: advertising/marketing terms.

Brand Identity
How the brand owner wants the consumer to perceive the brand …Brand identity is fundamental to consumer recognition and symbolizes the brand’s differentiation from competitors.

Brand name
A “brand name” constitutes a type of trademark, if the brand name exclusively identifies the brand owner as the commercial source of products or services…Most products have some kind of brand identity…

Brand Image
Wikipedia identifies a Brand Image as A brand is a collection of symbols, experiences and associations connected with a product, a service, a person or any other artifact or entity.”

Note: I say your brand image is how the public perceives you or your organization. If the brand image doesn’t match the brand identity, you’ll have to find the disconnect.

Now I understand why my college friend wrote my name. He knows me personally, not professionally…And here in cyberspace, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the personal from the professional you. You will have to, however, if you want to be successful at promoting your professional image on the internet.

Everywhere your name or even e-mail address appears on the internet, a cyber footprint is left behind. And it’s those footprints that need to be managed to leave an accurate trail representing the professional YOU.

Therefore, when I write about you managing your brand, I’m not referring to social conservative speak that indicates you should remove questionable photos or online handles such as You@slicktrickydick.com. If Slick Tricky Dick dot com promotes your brand image, then so be it! Just let there be consistency with promoting that brand.

For example, if you are appearing at a church function where you were hired as an expert panelist that espouses the perils of the sexual solicitation – you should use your e-mail and web address to link to the event. After all, folks will be looking for the inside story from someone who knows their business.

However, if you are only the deacon/ess chairing an event for, let’s say, “Teens and Sexual Abstinence,” …maybe you should use your Joe.Jane.Q.public@yohoo.com address for contact.

In short, make sure your cyber footprints leave a trail to your professional accomplishments and reinforce your brand. We all know those interested in hiring us, doing business with us, or even dating us will Google our name. Therefore, allow your cyber presence to serve as your E-Publicist telling your story in your absence.

copyright (c) 2009 MH