Branding yourself in the Digital Age. Some of the previous challenges I’ve looked at in this blog series related to the need for consistency across multiple platforms, and the way your personal brand is impacted by the brands of the organisations and people with which you associate. But there’s another pressing issue: controlling your brand in the free-for-all – that is the digital world.
The obvious challenge here is that your digital image can easily leave your control. I often give talks or participate at conferences, and these events are almost invariably filmed, especially in the post-COVID world. Great exposure, you might think—but are these digital images consistent with your brand?
For example, I’ve seen videotapes of a senior person giving a presentation at a conference and posted on YouTube. The presentation was good enough, but the slides to which she kept on referring did not appear in the clip, which dramatically reduced its usefulness—and created a highly unprofessional look. And once it’s made, that clip takes on a life of its own—you have no idea where it will end up. Some videos made of you and distributed without your knowledge could act as wrecking balls as regards your personal brand.
Make it a habit to insist on seeing any clips of yourself that are taken and ensuring they are up to your standard. You’ve spent so much time putting your brand out there, don’t let somebody else’s half-baked job compromise that! You don’t need to be a prima donna about it, just be firm.
I take this so seriously that when I’m presenting, I ask audience members not to film me, and have been known to insist that a videographer I trust does the video.
A related point is that now that many of our main channels for getting our brand out there will be video, you need to spend some time working on how you come across in that medium. The same points could be made for videoconferencing platforms like Zoom or Teams.
Points to consider include:
On film or video
Improve your presentation skills, especially on camera. What does your body language look like? Is your voice projecting and does it sound good? In a meeting or panel situation, are you getting your views out there early on? Professional help is available in these areas.
When online from home or your office
Pay attention to camera placement and lighting. Never let a camera take you from below—nobody looks good from that angle. The parts of your office that show up in the video should be uncluttered and look professional, but should be authentic—they are stage sets for your personal brand. For that reason, I’m not a big fan of the digital backgrounds some platforms allow one to choose.
For video meetings, make sure you look professional and in line with your brand. By keeping your camera off, you are saying something about your brand. By all means, keep the camera off for most of the time, but turn it on when you are talking, and that means looking the part. No more Zooms in your jammies and sleep hair!
Learn how to use the technology.
In the online world generally, you do yourself a huge disservice if you don’t become proficient in the technology. At the most basic level, you just look like a klutz if you are always the one who forgets to unmute but, more profoundly, the commonly used online platforms have lots of features that you can use to put the principles above into action. Know what they are so you can effortlessly use these tools to project your brand.
Generally, remember that online or on camera everything is amplified. Poor posture or body language, inappropriate grooming and so on are exaggerated. So is a late login to a meeting.
Impressions are formed quickly, and they can be hard to shift. Make sure you control branding yourself in the digital age as much as you can.
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