How To Market Yourself As A Brand

I was inspired to write this post today by a particularly (and let me stress unintentionally) narcissistic morning in which I created a new facebook page for my solo acoustic songs. The page was (for obvious reasons) called David McSweeney and after uploading a profile pic and cover photo I invited my facebook friends to like it. What I forgot was that this would cause facebook to send them all an email with the following text: –

‘David McSweeney has invited you to like David McSweeney’

Man, did I sound self indulgent or what? I got a few sarcastic texts and emails from my close friends and spent a good ten minutes or so cringing. And then I thought about it…

Marketing yourself as a brand is exactly what you have to do to succeed in online marketing these days. In fact it’s a key factor in the success of any business. Allow me to explain…

People Like To Deal With People

English: Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone...

Mr Apple: The late, great, Steve Jobs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The days of the faceless corporation are over. Everyone hates the banks. Everyone hates the energy companies and their fixed pricing. So what about a company that (mostly) everyone loves? Well, how about apple?

What do you think of when you think about apple? I’m sure one of the first things would be the late, great, Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was just as important in the success of the Company as the technology was.

Think of apple you think of Steve Jobs. Think of Steve Jobs you think of apple.

Steve Jobs was the face of the brand – in fact, in many ways he was the brand. Consumers trusted Steve, they believed in what he had to say and, because of that, they believed in and trusted apple as a Company.

And the fact that apple became the biggest Company in US history last year tells you all you need to know about what that trust means for your business.

A Lesson From History

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuile...

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, by Jacques-Louis David, 1812 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you think of when you think of the post revolution french empire? I am pretty sure the answer would be Napoleon and, in many ways Napoleon is the ultimate example of how to market yourself as a brand.

Such was the French people’s trust in Napoleon, that they elevated him to an almost messianic state and, while in that age of empires there were obvious patriotic reasons for the people’s wish to expand their countries influence, it was their belief in Napoleon the man that caused the incredible expansion through Europe in such a short period.

Don’t believe me? Have a read at this article and think about how Napoleon managed his image and was able to manipulate public opinion. I’m betting he would have had a phenomenal twitter following.

The Company was France, the consumers were the citizens of the newly formed French Republic and the face of the brand was Napoleon.

Closer To Home

Ok, that was quite a radical example, so I’ll bring things back to the world of the internet (and particularly blogging) for a minute and give you 3 examples of bloggers from the SEO community whose names are synonymous with their brands.

Brian Clark / Copyblogger
Rand Fishkin / Moz
Ann Smarty / MyBlogGuest

The principal is exactly the same as with apple – they are real people, they are active on social media, they have real opinions, people trust what they have to say and, therefore trust their websites/brands.

Ok, so how do you market yourself as a brand?


One of the most important elements of branding is consistency. When you think of a business you will think of a logo, a corporate colour scheme, a font style perhaps. But how does this apply to you as an individual?

Well, first things first, make sure you use the same photo in all of your online activities. Here’s a quick checklist of where your photo is likely to appear: –

  • Your facebook profile
  • Your google+ profile
  • Your twitter profile
  • Your linkedin profile
  • At the top of your blog posts
  • Any time you post a comment on another blog (if you haven’t got a gravatar, get one)
  • Your guest posts
  • Your avatar for any forums you are registered on

In fact, let’s think of your photo as your logo. So, we have a logo… next…

Say My Name

P.T.Barnum famously said ‘I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right’ – well, let’s take this on board and look at the times you should use your real name when promoting your business online.

Blog comments – any time you are commenting on a blog use your full name. Don’t use your brand name. Don’t use your keywords. Don’t use my name @ my brand. Just use your name! Got it?

Twitter – if you are a blogger, my advice is to use your real name and use your brand as your handle. For example, my tweets say David McSweeney and my twitter handle is @top5seo. I’m associating myself with my brand and people can see I’m a real person. I’m not a ro-ro-ro-ro-ro-ro-bo-bo-bo-ttttttt….

For larger companies, you might want to use your brand name, however, to keep that human touch add a ‘tweets by @name of person’ in the bio.

Your blog posts – blog posts should be by a person, not the name of the site and definitely not by admin. There should also be a nice smiley picture there as pointed out above.

Your guest posts – use your real name linked to your google+ account. Again associate yourself with your brand, i.e. ‘this article was written by David McSweeney from Top 5 SEO’

Oh, and be consistent with your name, i.e. I’ll always post as David McSweeney, not Dave, Davie, Dava or any other combinations. Remember, we’re creating a brand round your name – nike doesn’t have a nicname does it?!

Find Your Voice

I’ve referred to this in previous articles, but another important aspect of branding yourself is writing with a consistent voice.

I write about a wide variety of topics, but I would hope that someone reading my articles would recognise my narrative style. In fact, I had a comment on one one of my guest posts recently which said ‘David! I should have known!’. This was a good indication that there is a consistency in my style, which is all part of my personal branding.

You Can’t Hide Anymore

With the ever increasing importance of authorship, author rank and google+ you just can’t hide anymore and if you want to succeed online, you’re going to have to embrace the concept of becoming your own brand. As I’ve said, it’s all about consistency – so make sure you have a profile photo you are happy with as it’s going to be a smiling reminder of everywhere you go on the web!

Start thinking of yourself as a brand, be consistent, give good advice, give real opinions and you’ll be on the right track for building trust and making a success of your online business.

Oh, and in one final piece of self promotion… if you want to check out my new facebook page for my solo acoustic tracks, you’ll find it here. Give it a like (if you like!).

That’s right, in a final piece of shameless self promotion David McSweeney has just invited you to like David McSweeney 😉


About the Author

I'm a web developer, programmer, blogger and SEO expert from Glasgow, Scotland, with over 15 years experience in the industry. When I'm not writing about marketing and SEO you'll find me strumming the guitar in my band or listening to Revolver on repeat. Follow me on twitter, connect with me on google+ and add us on facebook to keep up with all the latest trends in SEO and online marketing.

Tom Jamieson - August 24, 2013

All good points here David. Sometime back, I went through all my main social media profiles and made sure I was using the same head-shot on all of them. I also changed the name of my twitter handle and Facebook page to reflect the URL of my blog, or some form of it. Since my URL is the same as my name, I usually add the “.com” at the end to differentiate between my personal accounts and my blog accounts. As always, you hit a home-run with this post. Thanks for sharing your insight and knowledge and have a great day!

    David McSweeney - August 24, 2013

    cheers Tom, glad you enjoyed it. That’s a good idea adding the .com – I’ve had a similar issue separating my personal facebook page with my one for my music.

Denis D. - September 29, 2013

Building a brand is important and nowadays being linked to your brand is just as important as doing anything else. People want to see other people behind their brands and want to know exactly who they can trust and who they can not. There are so many examples out there of people who are well known and stand behind a brand and of those who are not known at all. The best example I can think of is Richard Branson and the Virgin brand. Anytime someone thinks of Virgin they are thinking of Richard Branson and vice versa. In order to build something of quality you need to associate yourself with it.

I do not agree about using your full name as I think you can use an abbreviation, at least for the last name. My last name for example, Dobrochasov, is very long and hard to pronounce, at least for English speakers, therefore I just abbreviate it to a D. On my blog I do explain why I go with a short last name, mainly because it’s too long to type and second because it is just too darn hard to pronounce. Using a nickname however is not advisable as you do want to be know by your real name, but abbreviating or changing your last name in some cases might be ok.

    David McSweeney - September 30, 2013

    Richard Branson is a great example and yes, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using an initial for your surname and can understand your reasons for doing so.

Dilip Win - January 7, 2014

Nice tips to brand our-self, I rechecked all my websites and also social media for title and i assured my self i am with brand names. Thank you for this article.

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