Are you branding or are you blowing it?

Whether you're talking about a company or a person, building a brand takes work--and consistency. Who are you? What does your company represent? What words do you want to spring to mind when people think of you or your business?

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.

Do you?

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
  • Blog
  • 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.


  1. Brilliant post .Funny you should mention Klout, I first heard about them yesterday. So off to do the test now (quite nervous actually ;-)

  2. Hi Vanessa! Thanks for the comment ;-)

    There are pros and cons to Klout, but I think the topics and +K that were added are interesting. There are some people I've wanted to give a +K to, but their topics were a mess.

    For example, one is a computer tech. I wanted to give him a +K on computers, technology, or something related to his profession. According to his topics, he rarely discusses his area of expertise. Instead, his topics were bacon, ice cream, and other such stuff. I do happen to know he does tweet about eating or wanting to eat those things, so the listing of them was accurate. What a missed opportunity for him.

    Since you're just getting started with Klout, be sure to link all your social networking accounts. That will complete your profile and give you the most accurate score. Lots of people I know either love or hate Klout, but it's an interesting tool as long as you don't let your score dictate your life ;-)

  3. Excellent post!! Great job :)

  4. Long time, no see! Good to see you around the blog, Tom!

  5. I know I need to work on my websites to get them to be a little more consistent in style & for them to more identifiable as managed by me.  I use Hootsuite which has Klout scores embedded.  I seem to be more influential for my non-profit rather than my paid work, so I am starting to do something about that - need to balance it out a bit more.  Downside of Klout for me is that it states I am influenced by some people which I am clearly not, they are people on the other side of the political fence, it is taking my "mentions" of those people as assuming I am influenced by them - I guess its how the word "influence" it interpreted.  I recently placed QR Codes on my printed matter, if you are in the web & communications industry they are quite useful as you can go for a "less is more" approach on business cards, I know some companies who are QR coding everything!

  6. Hey Steven! Yeah, the influenced by and influencer of lists are always off in my opinion. I think they're out of whack for lots of people.

    As for QR codes, great point! I had my business cards redone a few months ago. Less info on them because I added a QR code. I save those for more tech savvy folks and use my old one for more traditional people.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing Steven!


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