Personal Branding is all about earning your brand the attention it deserves; but what if your brand shares the spotlight with someone else? In other words, what if you have a common name?
If the next employer, or client, or contact googles your name up to learn more about you after that brief encounter at the business cocktail you attended last week, will they find you, or someone else with your name. What if that person they found has digital dirt, how does that affect the future of your relationship? You might lose the job, or the business, or that opportunity …
Let’s take an example … two of my students introduced themselves as Ahmed Kamal. I found 447 results on LinkedIn called Ahmed Kamal! Now what are the odds of anyone finding you amongst that list? Let’s just be optimistic and say VERY SLIM!
You need to make sure your brand name is not confused with someone else’s and here’s how you go about doing that:
Change THE NAME
Chances are Ahmed Kamal won’t go to the official register and change his name … so that’s not the change I’m talking about here. I’m talking about adding uniqueness to your name. Here are some options:
- Add a key identifying factor: Associate your name with a title, an adjective, a profession; for example: Ahmed Kamal, MD or Ahmed Kamal, The Painter or The Great Ahmed Kamal … ok maybe you shouldn’t consider that last option, it might be attributed to a narcissistic tendency, unless that’s how you’d like to brand yourself, then by all means, go ahead!
- Nicknames: I never understood why everyone in Egypt had a nickname, but then I realized that this is the only way people can identify who they were referring to, since they all share very common first and last names. A tip on using a nickname though, make sure it’s not offensive in any circle. I have a friend that I’ve always known as Moë Ash – I recently tried to add him to my LinkedIn professional network, and I couldn’t find him. Then I discovered that his real name is Mohammed Reda … so when I conducted the search on that name on LinkedIn, as expected, I found one too many results. So my advice to him was to add his nickname to his real name, and introduce himself in any network as Mohammed Reda better known (or also known) as Moë Ash.
- Mix it up with initials: Sometimes all you need to do is use initials – A great example on that front is my friend Christine L Bowen, who uses CLB as an acronym for her name and she also translates that into her brand attribute (Create, Live, Be).
COMMUNIcate the same brand name
Regardless of the option you end up choosing for making your brand unique, make sure you communicate that same brand name across all platforms, online and offline.
- Own the name – or what I like to refer to as e-real-estate. Purchase your brand name url … www.yourbrandname.com
- Social Networks synergy - use the same brand name on all your social networks – have a look at this free tool www.namechk.com – it allows you to check the dominance of your chosen brand name (which should be your username) on multiple networks.
- Offline Material – be it your business card, your CV, or your signature, or any other kind of introduction (even an oral one) … make sure you communicate your brand name as you would like the receiver to remember it and search for it (for further reference)
drown the competition
You can never delete a search result from Google, but you can certainly drown it. In other words, you can make sure that result, which you want to hide, does not show up in the first three pages of Google. That can be achieved by owning your online brand name, as explained in the above section, and by being active in the different platforms and adding valuable content.
Here are some ways you can do that:
- Blog & Share: if you want to get noticed by your next employer or client, you need to make you are share you knowledge, thoughts, reviews about the industry (brand or product) on your blog. You need to make sure that the keywords you wanted to be associated with are frequently used on your blog.
Needless to say, I’m talking about blogging, as a certain prerequisite to any online brand. Think of the blog as your main brand communication hub, which can be reached at www.yourbrandname.com
- Commenting on high traffic blogs: A great way to get noticed in the online community is to leave smart comments on high traffic blogs. Notice, I said “smart” comments … you want to make sure the comments you leave behind arouse the interest of the reader enough from him or her to link back to you and check your profile, or blog … technically, you rank higher in Google when you have more incoming links. All comments will be signed off with your brand name
- Brand it: sign everything you share online with your brand name. If you upload a picture or an infographic that you created, make sure your brand name is there on the image, and in the name of the file you upload.
Now go on, google your name? are you happy with the results? how many you’s are there? Does your name appear in the first 3 results? How many time does your brand name recur on the first 3 pages? now be honest, if you didn’t know you, could you tell which you is YOU? Confusing, I know, this is exactly how those seeking you out feel! Think About It!