Build Your Personal Brand with These 5 Simple Tools

If you are trying to establish a personal brand or build your own platform, you may be overlooking some of the simple tools at your disposal. Literally, every point-of-contact is an opportunity to create a positive brand impression—if you are intentional.

Construction Site Crane Building a 3D Brand - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/VCTStyle, Image #16582394

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/VCTStyle

Here are five basic personal branding tools you should take advantage of before you move on to more complex ones.

  1. Email address. The other day, I received an email message from someone who claimed to be a social media expert, specializing in personal branding. Only problem was that his email address was something like rooster763@aol.com. That instantly killed his credibility with me.

    If you are using an AOL email address, stop. Nothing screams “I am stuck in the 90s!” like AOL. The same is true for yahoo.com and hotmail.com. The only exception is Gmail. Use this format: firstname.lastname@gmail.com. This looks way more professional than lovecat23@gmail.com.

    Better yet, buy your own domain name for $10.00–20.00 per year. You really have no excuse for not doing this. You will then have an email address that looks like yourname@yourdomain.com. This makes a positive, powerful brand impression.

  2. Email signature. Your email signature is an opportunity to create another branding impression. But be careful. If you include too much information, it just becomes a big gnarly ad. If you include too little, you miss a great opportunity.

    Ask yourself, What information do people really need? Maybe they need your phone number. Or maybe, they don’t. (I don’t provide mine, because I don’t want anyone calling me who doesn’t already have my number.)

    I do think it’s a good idea to include links to your blog or website, links to your social media profiles, and perhaps a mention of your newest project. (Don’t overdo it.) I also include a disclaimer at the bottom.

    Here’s my current signature:

    My Email Signature

  3. Business cards. This is another way to create a powerful branding impression and also pass along important information. I am amazed at how creative people are with this. But don’t go overboard.

    Communicate the basics: your logo, your name, contact information, and perhaps a tagline. Make sure to include your social media contact information. I have seen some cards with just a Twitter username or a Website address. That can be effective, too, depending on your purpose.

    You can do this yourself with software like Photoshop or (my favorite) Acorn. Or, if you want a dedicated software program, try Business Card Composer.

    If you want to kickstart your creativity, here are hundreds of creative examples from a website called CardFaves. The great thing is that you will also find links to designers and suppliers.

  4. Website. This is undoubtedly the single most important branding tool you can have. It is the first way in which most people will encounter you. Even if they meet you first or hear you speak, they will inevitably visit your website or blog. It will shape their opinion of you. That’s why you must get it right.

    Hire a web designer if you can afford one. Talk to him or her about your brand and what you want to communicate. Write down a few words that you hope visitors will use to describe you. Pay attention to colors and fonts. These all communicate in subtle and subliminal ways.

    If you can’t afford a web designer yet, at least start with a professional theme. When I moved to WordPress, I started with WooThemes. I have family members and friends who use ElegantThemes. I am currently using a customized version of Standard Theme, which I love. (Here are five reasons why.) You can purchase a great theme for $50.00–$100.00.

  5. Social media profiles. Once you have blog or web theme, incorporate as many elements as you can into your social media profiles. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others allow you to customize the background graphics and other elements.

    The goal is to have your fans and followers have a consistent brand experience. Use the same logo, color palette, and fonts on every platform. You want them to land on one of your social media profiles and know instantly that it is your profile.

    I used TweetPages to design mine. I spent a couple hundred dollars to have them design a custom background for my Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages. For a high-quality graphic artist, this was a bargain. As a bonus, it was one of the best customer service experiences I’ve ever had.

These five tools can go a long way toward creating a positive first or second impression. Don’t think of them in isolation, but rather as part of your overall brand management program.

Question: How well are you using these tools for personal branding? What tools have I missed? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • Chris Johnston

    I don’t get turned off so much by an AOL email, but have always been leery of Hotmail and Yahoo.  Especially Yahoo.  Great service.  I have one for misc. things like a place to receive discounts and coupons.  But who wants to be branded a Yahoo?  I have also wondered about Gmail.  Just because it looks like someone hasn’t made the jump from sticking their toe in the water to being around on a permanent basis. 

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    You map out new territory for me and give enough clues that I may actually arrive at the right destination. As usual, you provide excellent counsel.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Here’s the steps that I have taken:

    Recently obtained a domain name and am starting to switch over to my branded email address.
    Setup and posted content to my blog, http://www.jmlalonde.com

    I had never thought about the email signature and using it in the way you described. It seems like it would be a very effective way to grab peoples attention.

    I also like your idea on making all your social media sites look alike. It does make your brand carry more weight and makes it easily recognizable. I’ll have to look at implementing that into mine once I’ve decided the path I’m taking.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you in getting your own domain!

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        Thanks Michael. I’m hoping this will be a fun journey.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Subscribed in my RSS!

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        Thanks for subscribing Jeff! I hope you like it.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          No problem!  Looking forward to it!

  • http://www.inhisseason.com Teresita Glasgow

    I have all of these tools in place but changes are needed! Thanks for the advice.

  • Anonymous

    These are great tips for me to use for my personal life and my workplace! I just said something similar about aol the other day. My aol account is used for spam!

  • Superstar Aria

    great design! i also make this things in adob photoshop.

    discount card printing
    printed gift cards

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Awesome suggestions.  I’ve implemented each of them, except #5, which is what I’m working on now.  I’ve always had a Facebook, YouTube and Twitter profile, I’ve just never implemented the same feel across the board.  That’s the next step for me.  Thanks1

  • Sherri

    I am looking into buying my own domain and in the process of looking around and researching found something called “WhoIs” or something like that. It was referenced toward the end of the information and is supposed to keep your personal information private and protect you from spam. Have you heard of it? It’s not very expensive for coverage for a year, but I’ve never heard of it – or anything like it – and just wondered if this was a totally unnecessary thing. They make it sound like you could be an easy victim of identity theft without it… 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Naw, I wouldn’t sweat it. But I use a P.O. Box.

  • http://darensirboughblog.wordpress.com Daren Sirbough

    These tips have revolutionised the way I use social media. Over the past couple of days I have revamped everything from my twitter to my blog to my facebook and email signatures. It all adds up and is starting to have a recurring them about it.

  • Bert Savarese

    Just a comment, not meant to be snarky.  On #3. Business cards, second paragraph, you said, “…..hear are a few …..”  It should  be ‘here’ , not ‘hear’.  

    Spent a lot of time looking at resumes, so notice wrong choice of word, misspellings, etc.  Thought you may want to change it.  We all over look things when we write — so easy to do!

    Enjoying your blog!  Thanks.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think I fixed this right after it was posted. Unfortunately, it went out via RSS feed (and email). Is that what you are looking at? Thanks.

  • Donald Smith

    Good information given here would really assist people in knowing in this niche. I will have no problem of directing standard business card dimensions and its ideas to my friends.

  • http://twitter.com/nobun 中澤信幸

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    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for pointing this out. I wasn’t familiar with this site.

  • http://www.register-web-domain.in Domain registration

    Great tools  branding is the important part of the every business this information is very useful to me  thanks to sharing 

  • http://www.register-web-domain.in Domain registration

    Great tools we are provides the cheapest domain name services in India

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  • Steven

    Michael, I am enjoying your posts and podcasts. My wife is considering a bakery type business. How important would it be to have a  .com website name as opposed to .net, etc?  In keeping with the platform building idea, should her name be in the business name?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      COM is best. If you compare it to the telephone, COM is like an 800 number. NET is like an 888 number. Either can work. Putting your name in the business depends on what the business is and what you want to accomplish. If it is a personal services business, it is almost a pre-requisite.

  • Wkroeplin

    HI Michael,
    I am big time enjoying what you do.  I am in the process of branding and have a question.
    I am concerned that my name is too complicated to use as my url, email, etc.  I soooo understand how important it is to include your name in branding.  But, is there a diminishing return when using a more complicated name?  My last name is difficult for people to remember how to spell.
    thoughts?
    thanks for the help

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      How difficult?

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    Thanks, Wayne. Personally, I would use your name. Just get used to spelling it out for people. I don’t think it’s a problem. Thanks.

    • Wkroeplin

      Thanks
      :)

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