Have you ever wondered how to create your personal brand or even what a personal brand is? How about developing a strong online presence when it comes to your digital name? Well, I’m here to tell you exactly how to create your personal brand and why it’s so important.
My name is Eric Aaberg, and I am a marketing and entrepreneurship undergraduate student here in the Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas. From being the student director of Esports at UT Dallas, I’ve grown my branding in the digital world. This has led me to discover more networking opportunities and pathways. For example, at the end of February, I moderated a fireside panel with the Women in Technology and Business student organization on digital media identity and personal branding.
What is a “personal brand”?
A personal brand is your own “professional” digital image. Think of it as your name in the world of the internet. Your brand includes all of your personal and professional social media accounts, handles, online aliases, feeds, websites, portfolios, blogs, and more. Your brand and image grow to the extent of how much you invest in creating it. For example, my personal brand includes “Erictigerawr,” my personal handle on all online platforms and websites (for example, erictigerawr.com), and Eric Aaberg, my legal full-name.
Think of how a company brands itself: It has its own name, logo, color palette, social media handles, website, and more. Simply translate that to you as an individual and boom, that’s what personal branding is.
Personal branding comes into play more than you know. Employers look at your résumé and then your social media accounts for first impressions. They see your personal brand. If someone searches on Google, either your handle or your name, what they encounter is your personal brand. Is someone looking at the consistency or possibly reading your handle out loud? That’s your personal brand.
Good Personal Brand Practices/Advice
Picking a Personal Brand Handle
Pick a professional, unique, consistent handle:
My biggest advice first on personal branding is to create your own unique, professional and consistent handle on social media platforms, websites, gamertag (if you’re into gaming and esports). This makes developing your personal brand 100% easier.
Why? With a consistent handle on all platforms, your audience, followers, employers, and even friends, can find you more easily across many platforms.
For example, when someone asks me what my username is for Instagram, I simply say it’s @Erictigerawr on everything. If they ever want to find me on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, they’re able to do so easily without trying to memorize another username. Additionally, consistently using the same handle will save you time on trying to memorize a different username for every account or app.
Stay away from underscores, numbers, periods and spaces:
I would stay away from underscores “__” — also known as underlines, low lines and low dashes — numbers, periods, and spaces when you create your personal handle.
Why? Underscores, periods and spaces are not available as an option for all social media platforms, so using one of these automatically will remove that consistency opportunity for your handle. Numbers and underscores can lead to people easily impersonating you. (Scenario: You claim the username “Eric_Aaberg” or “EricAaberg7,” but someone claims the username “EricAaberg” or “EricAaberg6.” This could lead people trying to follow your account to follow the wrong/imposter account. Stay away from these.
Again, your personal brand should have a “professional” feed. You can be as relaxed as you’d like on your own personal feeds. Still, the rule of thumb I use is that you shouldn’t ever have to worry about sharing your username or social media accounts with an employer.
Pick something short:
Another thing to keep in mind is keeping your username as short as possible.
Why? Well, social media platforms can vary in regard to the maximum number of characters they allow for a username (Twitter = 15, Instagram = 30, Facebook = 50, LinkedIn = 50, Pinterest = 30). As you can see, some platforms have a larger limit, but others have a smaller limit. To be in the safe zone, try to stay under 14 or 15 characters when possible.
Username taken? Be creative!
If your username is taken, don’t just add an underscore or number before or after your name/handle. Be creative! If @EricAaberg is taken, you could do @ItsEricAaberg, @HeyEricAaberg, @EricOnSocial and more. I prefer doing something like this versus @_EricAaberg. (Your followers could get confused and try @EricAaberg_ or @Eric_Aaberg.)
While this really doesn’t change much perk-wise, feel free to use capitalization as you see fit! My only recommendation is not doing @ALLCAPS or @AlTeRnAtInGCaPs (alternating caps and lowercase) as either could be hard to read.
Finally, take your time in creating your brand and social media handle! Your handle is one of the first impressions for your personal brand, and you theoretically should pick one and stick with it — forever.
Picking a Professional Email Address (And Multiple)
When it comes to an email address, pick one that is professional but also not your personal email address. Create a separate email address strictly for business/
professional inquiries; that way, you don’t have potential offers lost in your inbox. I have all of my email addresses go into the same Google Mail Inbox; I just have different [email protected]. Additionally, try to refrain from using your university email address résumés as a primary business contact. One, they may not be active when you graduate, and two, they are public records.
Results of Good Personal Branding
Good personal branding results lead to an overall main goal: better discovery and more future job opportunities. Other results include search engine optimization —SEO — the process by which you use the best words that attract the most views of your sites and accounts, more traffic to your personal website and portfolio, job opportunities, client leads, and more. Personal branding also can be used to leverage better opportunities or outcomes when you apply for jobs, and it could even be the deciding factor for a job like marketing director or social media coordinator.
Boom! You now know the steps to create your own professional personal brand! So, what are you going to go with? What’s your unique handle in the digital world going to be?