Martin Lindstrom wrote a great piece in Fast Company called, "Your Business Card is a Billboard for Your Brand". Not only does he show some neat examples of great cards, but he uses Ikea as an example of consistent branding. Its do-it-yourself image is conveyed in everything it does. It's business cards have "name", "email", "phone" printed on them with a blank line for staffers to fill in their own info. New employees are shown to their empty offices, which are later filled with boxes of Ikea furniture. Ikea lives its brand.
Branding isn't just about your logo. It's about your public image. Kind of like the keywords you use in SEO, but only this is real life. What do you want people to think when your name or company is mentioned?
Personally, I've found Klout's +K feature to be very insightful when it comes to my own personal branding. If you're not familiar with the tool, it allows people to endorse others on the topics that Klout has determined they tweet about the most. This is good for two reasons:
1) You can see if your given topics are things that you want to be known for (and, if not, you should fix that!).
2) Based on the number of +Ks you're given by other Twitter users, you can get some insight as to how others perceive you.
Above are the top five topics Klout has said I'm influential about (based on my tweets, retweets, conversations, etc.). Are these things I want to be known for? You betcha!
Your branding is cemented with every action you take and every word you speak. Are you putting in the thought that's required to shape your brand? Think about the following weapons in your promotional arsenal and whether they're solidifying the image you want to create and the brand you're striving to build:
- Business card
- Twitter bio (including background and avatar)
- LinkedIn profile
- Email signature
- Collateral materials
- Recruitment tools (if you're a business, your brand should promote a culture to prospective employees)
- Google profile (more important than ever since the launch of Google+!)
- YouTube channel
- Search results
Unlike the old days when the media was the only one able to tell your story, today's web and social networking tools have empowered us all to be our own PR firms. If you do it in public, you're saying something about your brand. Will that message be positive or negative? It's up to you.