Now that we have established what branding is (in my previous article) and why you MUST start paying attention to your brand, let’s get started with some simple first steps.
- Choose Your Name: Decide whether your online brand will be named after you, or if you want to build a brand around a different name, like perhaps the name of your product or company. There are many examples of both. These internet experts use the name of their main product or brand as their domain in their blogs – James Schramko uses Internet Marketing Speed (his theme is all about speed) and Frank Kern uses Mass Control (his brand is all about control – in a good way). Richard Branson’s company Virgin of course is the most well known example of this strategy. The following two experts use their names in their domains – Chris Howard and Tony Robbins. There is no right or wrong. When you brand yourself, you are building up your reputation. Using your name may be the right choice if you are selling your expertise. However, if you have a separate product, you may want to think about separating your name. Remember, a brand based solely on your name will die if you end the business.
- Brand Your Keywords: When you write a blog post, you add tags and keywords to help people who want to find you on the internet do just that and to be able to navigate around your blog easier. It’s the same with branding. Identify those few perfect words early on in the branding process, so not only your potential customer base knows, but you can be reminded quite clearly, of who you are and what you’re doing. It is a great system to keep you focused. If you want to write an article or create a product that does not fit with your original themes then don’t (at least not when you are just getting started and building a brand). Even McDonald’s is still finding it difficult to be known for healthy food choices. It will only confuse people on what you are all about. If you really want to be a recognized expert online then stick to a niche and dominate it with the most comprehensive info on that topic and only that topic. How do you find your themes (keywords)? I like using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to get ideas of word combinations that people actually use to search for something online. Start with 3-6 areas you want to focus on within the same field and then enter those phrases to get clarity on if you have chosen well. A great example would be “Human Resources”, “getting a dream job” and “hiring the right team” for someone who wants to position themselves as a HR expert online. By using the Google tool they can get clarity on those phrases to see if people actually search for “getting a dream job”. Perhaps a better choice would be “find my dream job”. A little hint – once you choose your phrases I recommend using them as the categories on your blog too.
- The Right Domain: Buy your own domain name, and buy the “dot com” if at all possible. I recommend buying a domain at Name Cheap, because they throw in WHOIS Guard for free, which is a great way of protecting your personal data from just anyone seeing it on the web. Then go and get it hosted. I recommend Host Gator and getting their “Hatchling” Hosting Plan. You can easily install the WordPress software with them too and be set up in a matter of minutes with your own blog.
- Professional Blog Template: Consider really investing in your site and having it professionally designed. It saves you a lot of hassle and makes a nice first impression. It’s usually inexpensive and easy, and it will serve your well to have a streamlined, clean, beautiful site. I love and use WooThemes for my WordPress themes.
- Consistency: Along the lines of having a professional blog, it’s important to continue that same imagery on your twitter site, on your YouTube site, etc. When people see your colors, your graphics, your logo, anywhere, they should immediately be able to identify you. I like Social Identities for Twitter Backgrounds. You can direct them to your blog and have them make a Twitter theme using the look and feel of your blog template.
- Photos: Use an attractive professional photo of yourself. Furthermore, try to use a photo that communicates your company’s image – fun, serious, trendy, etc.
- Logo: Yes, designing and deciding upon a logo is a complete process in and of itself. But you need to start thinking about it and acting upon it. I used 99Designs and was really happy with their work. You can get designers to submit multiple designs and give them feedback every step of the way. You can also send out your designs to your friends and social media followers to vote on their favourite before you choose.
- Global Presence: This is the most important thing you can do for yourself. When you have a name and a blog, jump into the social networking fray with a vengeance. The internet is free and at your fingertips. Become an expert of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and others. Success relies on your creating a web of links back to your blog (where you must write quality content, by the way). Networking, creating friends, finding colleagues, sharing information, consistently talking about and polishing your expertise, your image — this is the key to personal branding success today.
In my next post I will share some easy tips about which social media accounts you should have to build up your personal brand. It’s not difficult. It just takes that added bit of elbow grease and determination to become an expert in creating your brand online.