Brand yourself – Don’t give away your biggest asset online!

personal-brand-stand-out1 I’ve been online for a long time. Some of you have teenage kids that weren’t even a sperm in their fathers testes when I started surfing the tubes and one thing, that admittedly took me a long time to learn, but which will always stay with me, is that YOU are your brand and your biggest asset on line is your followers.

When you sign up to be part of, oh, lets say a blogging group called “BiggieBloggers” what is the value to you in adopting that name as part of your twitter brand? Why on earth would you call yourself “Paul_BiggieBloggers” or “NBrain_BiggieBloggers”?

The answer is little to none. You’re only making yourself invisible in the folds of someone else’s robes.

When you do something like that you are handing over all of the value you create as you build your network around their brand.

Stick with your own identity, build your brand around you. Allow yourself to become the asset that is desired by whomever is courting you to become part of your group.

Your followers are a valuable asset, and if you brand yourself as part of any one particular organization or group you won’t be able to easily take your followers with you when you move on.

It may seem like it’s incredibly easy to change your username in twitter to something more suited to you when you’re finished with a certain organization, and to be honest it is, but when you do that, you loose so much recognition. You loose so many people who associate you with your username, your brand.

I think it’s best, from the very start to try to stick to one username, at most 2, (in my case “pauloflaherty” and “oflaherty”)  and be pervasive with them across the web in order to build your own brand, value and maintain your own identity.

Companies, networks, organizations and fads will come and go, but your name will always be your brand.

Defining yourself – It’s not so easy!

We are all proponents of the art of self branding. We all practice it every single day, most of us without even realizing it.

We all makes choices everyday where the resulting outcome is a much an extension of our personality than any logical thought process.

We all have a basic need to define ourselves, our place in the world and our role within our various social circles.

We crave acceptance but also individuality and all our choices are ultimately guided by this.

Do you drink wine or beer? Buy Nike or Adidas trainers? Shop in bargain stores or stick to the big name stores or do you like to thrall the thrift shops in search of that something unique?

If you take the economic factor out of it, the choices that we make ultimately become a matter of personality and the image we wish to portray of ourselves.

Everything we do and say, purchase or visit, listen too, or consume is an extension of our inner urge to be what we want others to see us as.

Some of us are comfortable with ourselves, so these choices are easy and are an actual extension of ourselves.

For others, unfortunately, the quest to discover "themselves" is ongoing and those choices are ultimately an attempt to build the image we want others to see.

At the end of the day, it’s all a public portrayal of what we want our "inner me" to be perceived as.

In the end we are creating a brand, just like Apple, Microsoft, Ferrari, Skoda, Madonna or Coca Cola with the exception being that the product is you (or me).

This extends onto the internet as well.

Look at your blog.

What theme are you using, have you customized (or attempted to customize it), what avatars do you have, what color scheme are you using?

You get the point I’m trying to make here.

So, considering I was sitting here contemplating this very topic this morning (while asking folk on twitter what color shirt I should wear)I was surprised to see a post by Sara (a fellow Fuelmyblog writer who will be joining us at SOBCon08 in Chicago), which was provoked by a question she heard on the radio.

If you had to get a tattoo today that was one word or picture that would sum up your life or personality, what would it be?

Awesome question, right? It’s something that certainly requires a lot of thought.

To be honest with you guys, I’ve been thinking about this all morning and haven’t got a suitable single word to sum myself up.

I have come up with a word for how I see my future life – "rapture". I’ll leave you guys to figure out how that fits in on your own!

Yet defining myself now, I couldn’t come up with a word (I’ve been spending so long speaking Danish I think my English vocabulary is waning) so instead had to define myself by an image.

Ultimately I don’t think this image (which is the motif from my favorite tie) would ever make a good tattoo, but what can you do?

Black white sheep red tie 

So, dear O’Flaherty readers, what is it that that best defines you as a person?