I’ve once again combined forces with art director, designer and founder of Poolga: Juan Carlos Cammaert to discuss the elements of online branding, resulting in some great ideas.
When thinking about branding, a lot of people picture the brands of large companies or mainstream products. Branding doesn’t only apply at a corporate level, and has huge relevance at the level of the individual creative freelancer.
The internet and social media has meant that face to face interaction between worker and client is becoming increasingly scarce. Because of this, the need to project a consistent virtual persona in the form of a brand across all areas of your online presence has taken on a much greater significance.
Here are twelve ways to establish an online brand:
Determine your brand
Know yourself and what you want in life in general. An understanding of who you are in the sense of knowing where you are going will determine the characteristics of the brand you transmit online.
Either use your own name, or a pseudonym, but stick to one of them all over the web that you can use so that your audience knows who you are and can identify you across multiple online venues (Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and so on).
Make sure you secure a domain name that includes this name that you associate with your online brand as soon as you can.
You might choose to use a logo to mark your brand, that will become recognizable as you go about doing business with clients and promoting yourself online. A logo will add a sense of professionalism to your work, which should be used when you have the chance, to garner exposure for your brand.
You needn’t use a logo in its traditional sense. A consistent style and colour of the font you choose to have your own name in is often enough.
Have a ‘yourbrandname.com’ site, which encapsulates your brand in the content you add to it. A blog is especially effective at strengthening your online brand, be acting as a platform through which you can express yourself and share your expertise with others.
A portfolio that displays your best work is one of the key parts of the online branding toolkit of any creative worker. However, these can sometimes work against the favour of the image of your brand if the work you present does not stay true to a distinct style or if the work is confused, difficult to view and/or inconsistent.
Present a clear portfolio that exemplifies a style or a presentational style that is in-keeping with the brand image you are trying to create.
Social networking profiles
Take advantage of the networking capabilities of sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to create exposure for your consistent brand. Be sure to really make the most of each of the profiles available to you on these sites, as they provide further opportunity to build and expand your brand. This includes using a consistent message, logo and/or picture.
Even though the avatar is often a tiny image icon, most people identify contacts at a glance because of it. Keep either a photo of you or a logo consistent throughout the web on sites that use avatars. This also applies to any profile photos of you on social media sites and/or your personal sites.
Go to gravatar.com to upload an image that will appear anytime you post a blog comment and keep it consistent to your other avatars.
Colors and fonts
Just like any company, it doesn’t hurt to be consistent in terms of the colours and fonts you use wherever you have a presence online that allows them to be altered, especially your personal portfolio site.
A consistent message
Whenever you have the opportunity to reveal your work to the web, include a message that is consistent with all the other messages you include online. This includes the way you describe your achievements, your mission and yourself.
You’ll probably have a longer, more complete description of yourself on your website than on your Twitter description, but these still need to follow one unified communication strategy.
Your voice is the manner and tone with which you communicate with others through online media channels such as email and Twitter. Again, consistency as opposed to style, is more important here. Be aware that a strong brand will transmit a similar voice in all that it does. This could be a jolly tone or a corporate voice, but make sure your voice remains consistent and positive.
Video introduction and profile
Consider putting together a short video introducing yourself and your work to upload to your own YouTube, Vimeo or other video site profile (or any other online presence) so that you can vividly communicate your brand. You can also use a video presentation to describe reasons behind an application for a specific job role that you can show potential employers.
You shouldn’t ignore the relevance of your email account in adding to your online brand. Include details of your site and other areas of your internet presence in your email’s signature, perhaps also a slogan or tagline that reflects your brand. Especially with Google’s Gmail account, which enables chat, you can strengthen the relationships you have with your contacts and express your brand even further.
All of this will add to your brand being firmly incorporated into the online world, so that your work becomes associated with professionalism, character and value.
What does everyone else think and do some of you have other ideas?