An Image Branding Mistake: I Make It But You Shouldn’t

September 30, 2008

I don’t usually advise people to do something I don’t do myself. But I’m making a huge image branding mistake that you should avoid at all costs.

Excellent branding is essential to your survival, whether you’re a massive company, or a freelancer going it alone. And it’s becoming far more important for folk to feel like they’re dealing with real people, as opposed to some faceless corporation. So getting your image out there, or the image of a key member of your business is vital, if you want to stand out from your competitors.

Now, I’m not saying you should slap a mugshot of yourself in the middle of your company logo. But it should be on your website or blog and in all your marketing materials, so whenever your customers think of your company, they can immediately picture your face.

I don’t do this – I should but I have my reasons. I’m not wanted by the police and I’m not part of some witness protection program, or anything like that. And I’m exactly who I say I am and I’ve done all the things I’ve claimed to have done, otherwise I wouldn’t use my real name as my internet domain.

The simple truth is, I have a scar on my face. It’s not horrendous – I’m far luckier than some people. But it’s visible – folk who are close to me wouldn’t insult me by telling me it wasn’t. I can’t cover it with make-up – as it’s sunken – it’s right below my left eye and surgery won’t put it right either.

I’m not good at photoshop so, I can’t cover it up that way – if I could, I would. Folk can criticize me for that if they like, or tell me it’s part of me, which I hate. It isn’t, I wasn’t born with it and it reminds me of one of the most terrible moments of my life.

But not using an image of myself in my own personal branding does go against me, which is why I’m advising you to use yours in your own branding – unless you’ve got a good reason not to.

People don’t interview me – for example, Kelly from She Power has wanted to interview me for months but she won’t publish the interview on her blog without a picture, as she doesn’t want to feature folk who have a problem showing their identity in some way. And I guess a lot of other people will feel like that too. But I’ve spent hours trying to get rid of the scar with photoshop, so she can have a picture and it just hasn’t worked.

Think about the people you know on the Internet – there’s very few who don’t use their own image, as a major part of their branding. And when you think about their business, or their website, or blog – you automatically tend to visualise them. Good examples are: Guy Kawasaki, Liz Strauss, Seth Godin, Jeremy Schoemaker and Darren Rowse.

There’s few folk I can think of who are well known and don’t use their own images as part of their branding. The only ones who come to mind are Harry and James of Men With Pens, Barbara Swafford of Blogging Without a Blog and Skellie of Skelliewag. They no doubt have their own reasons for withholding their images and I don’t know if doing so is holding them back too.

Do you prefer to see a person’s image, before you deal with their company? Do you feel that you warm to them more. And is there any circumstances where a company shouldn’t use images as part of their overall branding strategy?

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