(DGIwire) — Long ago, the term “branding” conjured up images of red-hot irons and cattle. However, as the United States became more industrialized and capitalism took hold, “branding” became the way for consumers to identify a product or service. Everything from big-ticket items such as televisions, cars and computers to smaller household items such as laundry detergent, toothbrushes and peanut butter all rely on their brand’s reputation. Generic mouthwash may cost less, but Listerine might sell more because consumers recognize its name from advertising campaigns.
Today, the term “branding” is no longer relegated to companies—or cattle. Every individual has a personal brand, whether they know it or not, and whether they want to or not. According to a recent article in Forbes, many of us have not consciously cultivated these personal brands, but they exist nonetheless through our digital footprints. Do you have a Facebook or Twitter account? Do you ever comment on articles or write reviews on Amazon? Are you listed on your company’s website or do your friends “tag” you in pictures? All these things are partly responsible for shaping your personal brand. In fact, according to a study conducted by AVG, an online security company, 92 percent of children under age two in the U.S. already have a digital footprint.
The choice is no longer whether you want to have a personal brand, but rather what you want your personal brand to reflect about you. You can choose to let the Internet define your personal brand or you can take the initiative to carefully cultivate your persona. This is especially important for people who hold positions in publicly traded companies. Investors as well as other potential stakeholders who may want to buy shares in your company aren’t only looking at your company’s operations—though that is a huge factor. They are also looking at you and the other people who are part of your company’s leadership team. In the age of Google, you’d better believe that potential investors will learn everything about you they possibly can before cutting that check.
Dian Griesel, Ph.D., President of DGI Comm, an award-winning media relations and news placement agency based in New York City, knows the importance of branding for you personally and your company.
“We live in a social media-obsessed, ‘sum-it-up-in-140-characters’ world,” says Dian. “If you manage a public company and don’t know how you or your company are perceived by the public, I’d recommend that you Google yourself and your company regularly. The Internet may not always have completely factual information, but you’ll be able to get a pretty good sense of what people think of you.”
Dian adds, “Of course it’s impossible to control everything that others might tweet or blog about you or your company, you do have more control than you might imagine over your own image. If you, as a member of the leadership team, display the utmost professionalism and integrity as well as a strong point of view, people will trust that you hold your company to the same high standards.”