Monday 27 June 2011

Thing 3: Consider your personal brand

Don't worry - branding doesn't need to be painful!

Thing 3 is about your personal brand. We'll consider how people see your online brand, what brand you would like to convey, and how to match the two.

I have a couple of confessions:
  1. It took over three weeks for me to decide on a blog domain for my 23 Things for Professional Development blog.
  2. It took me an hour to brand my blog the way I wanted to before I registered it with the 23 Things for Professional Development programme.
I know what some of you might be thinking; what a waste of time! Or is it? It might *only* be a blog, but it's part of my online presence, and even more crucially, it's part of my professional online presence. I want that online presence to be an accurate reflection of who I am, whether someone comes across my blog, my Twitter account, my LinkedIn account, or any of my other online professional networks. I also want to maintain consistency across different platforms.

So what can you do to maintain a consistent image and ensure you are portraying an accurate reflection of who you are? Consider your core values and how you can convey those messages to those who meet you in person and those who find you online. Things to consider include:
  • Name used - do you have a nickname that you use in a professional or personal capacity? What do you want people to refer to you as? Try to be consistent across different platforms, and if you want people to know it's you remember to include your real name somewhere on each. If you're not using your real name, I'd recommend using something which is easy to pronounce - initials may make sense to you when you register on a web service, but won't make it easy to say when you meet people.
  • Photograph - do you want people you network with online to recognise you when you meet face to face? The chances are that you do, in which case consider using a recent photograph of yourself as an identifier, rather than a cartoon or other image.
  • Professional/personal identity - do you want to merge the two or do you prefer to keep them separate? Personally, I tend to take a "profersonal" approach to demonstrate both sides of my personality, but others prefer to keep different sides of their life compartmentalised.
  • Visual brand - one of the easiest ways to distinguish a brand for yourself is with a clear visual identity. This could be the colours you use, or a certain style of imagery - anything to help your presence stand out as something unique and individual to you, and again remember to be consistent. I have the same purple flowers background for my blog and Twitter page, and also use this (and my penguin from my blog header) on my business cards:


Time for a bit of a vanity check. Search for your name in Google and check out the first page or so of results (try to do this in a different browser or an incognito window whilst logged out of Google to get a truly objective view - if you have a very common name you may wish to use another keyword word such as library or your country of origin alongside your name).

Do any of the search results on the first page refer to you personally? Are they the things you would want someone to find if they were looking to find out information about you? Which of your profiles come first? Is there anything about you on the results page that you wouldn't want a potential colleague/employer finding out about you?

Reflect on what you discovered and think about some of the ways you could improve your personal brand. Record your thoughts on your blog, and if there are some simple things you can change, go for it!

Optional extra activity

If you are feeling particularly brave, try asking someone else (such as one of the other programme participants) what they think your blog says about your personal brand. Are the words they suggest ones that you feel describe you? If not, consider why that might be and how you could change that perception.

Recommended reading

The Practical Librarian - Manage your brand as a librarian

Branding iron image from vapour trail on Flickr.


  1. Hi,

    this looks fantastic - looking forward to trying it. The first thing I did was check my tags on your delicious page so people who are interested can find me! Would you be so kind as to add Higher Education and HE in FE to my tags if possible? Thank you - Sarah (Stroumphette's musings)

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Sorry for not including both before - it's done now.


  3. Hi,
    While considering my personal brand I decided to change the URL to my blog to something more memorable....forgetting that this has changed the link from your delicious page. (Silly Girl)
    I've resubmitted my blog details again - could you delete the old entry? Thanks Alex

    Wrapped Up in Books (new URL

  4. I'm having a similar response as Alex to Thing 3 - Branding. I've decided to consolidate the blog I created for cpd23 and my original "professional" wordpress site. I'll resubmit my blog/participant info via the web form here, but wanted to also send a note asking someone to update the entry for Librarian in a Nutshell (now at


  5. Alex & Melanie,

    Delicious is magic - I don't need to delete and re-enter, I can just change the URL in the old entry. Which I've done. Thanks for letting us know.


  6. I'm really enjoying cpd23 - thank you. Thing 3 really got me thinking - never thought i could have/be a brand! Lisa

  7. Another place for some further reading on personal branding and digital identity is a project at Reading University called 'This is me'.

    BTW this is my first time commenting on a blog!

  8. I'd disagree with the first comment - branding is painful both in relation to corporate and personal branding. For example, witness the huge amounts of money spent on life coaches, image consultants, makeup artists, hairdressers, clothing and other forms of expression. Witness also the time taken to perfect and promote a corporate brand - only a few brands stand out from the crowd.

  9. Hi,

    I'm afraid I changed mine too. I'm now called The Wolfenden Report, which I've re-added to the list but now need Stroumphette's musings to be removed. Sorry - although it's you guys who have made us reevaluate ou names!

  10. Very insightful exercise. In addition to the blog post I changed my Twitter handle to DLNieman. When I occassionally blog on LIS News, that's the name I use. I still think, though, that Dan Nieman carries more clout than D.L. Nieman

  11. Sarah,

    I've changed your listing :)

    Katie (logged in as cpd23)

  12. You might find this of interest:

    The WHY of Your Brand

  13. In thinking about brand and a professional focus for my blog, I wondered what you can do to try and ensure people can locate your blog? Can you tag a whole blog or just individual posts?

  14. Hi Rosalyn,

    So far as I know, you can only tag individual posts, but this does help with retrieving the blog as a whole - if people find a particular post, they've also found the blog.

    I think that filling in the 'about me' bit of the profile helps with retrieval, as, possibly, does adding meta information to your template html. There's an article about how to that here - - be warned: it does involve tinkering with the html!


  15. Thanks for this Katie and for altering the delicious bookmarks for my blog

  16. Just read a couple of useful articles posted at TWN.

    5 basic things you should be doing to manage your online reputation:

    This URL is long and may break, so here is a tiny URL for "5 basic things":

    The CEO of ME: 10 Personal Online Branding Tips:

    This URL is long and may break, so here is a tiny URL for "10 Personal Online Branding Tips":

  17. This was a fun 'thing' and very useful too!


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