Enforce Your Brand With Your Avatar

by derek on January 16, 2009 · 47 comments

With all of the work we have been doing to increase our comments, add more readers, and make sure we are send a clear message, you might be tempted to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
However, we do need to look at one more thing first.
Your brand.
When I first began blogging, I did not give much thought to my brand at all. As one blog grew into two blogs, and then three, I felt like each blog had its own brand but there was nothing that brought them all together.
In an effort to build a centralized brand for all of my blogging efforts, I created Red Staple Media. The site and logo were created, business cards were ordered, and I had a brand.
However, I have to come realize that while Red Staple Media may be my brand, I am still the face of that brand.
With that in mind, something that I have been meaning to address is the fact that across the Interweb I am using a few different avatars to represent me (and thus my brand). Ideally, you want to have one image, or avatar in this case, that identifies you to other people.
That builds brand recognition.
Just recently, I unveiled the redesign of Threaded Web. It is no mistake that the branding of the twitter background for Threaded Web follows the same design.
Consistency is key.
When people see your image or avatar, you want them to immediately recognize it as your brand (or you if you are your brand).
As you will see in a minute, one of my avatars is a picture of me from my junior year in college and well, let’s just say people wouldn’t recognize it as me. When I met Gary Ng from iPhone in Canada at BlogWorld, we were talking for a little bit and then it hit him, “Oh, you’re the guy with that avatar wearing shades.
There was no consistency.
In an effort to build more consistency for my brand, I want to bring all of my various social media accounts together with one consistent avatar.
Now, rather than simply sit here and pick which one I feel like using, I thought it would be fun to share a handful of avatars with all of you and let you have a voice in which one I should use as the face of my brand.
Here are the avatars that are up for consideration:

  • Derek Semmler Avatar

    Avatar #1

    You might notice this avatar as the basis for the picture that is used over at The Man Page (that picture had the background removed).


  • Derek Semmler Avatar

    Avatar #2

    You remember what I said earlier about an out-of-date avatar? Well, here you go. When I first started blogging, I didn’t have any pictures of myself so I scanned in this picture from college and used it as my avatar. Yeah, baby!


  • Derek Semmler Avatar

    Avatar #3

    This picture was done by a professional photographer when I needed a head shot for my involvement with the BP Insider Program awhile back. Looks good, although a little too staged.


  • Derek Semmler Avatar

    Avatar #4

    Back when I was wrapping up my involvement with Movember, I snapped a few pictures after shaving the beard. This picture “feels” more like me, with the skull cap and goatee regular staples of my every day look.


  • Derek Semmler Avatar

    Avatar #5

    Maybe the skull cap isn’t your thing, that’s cool – here is one without the skull cap but still rockin’ the goatee (and yes I still have it now).


  • Derek Semmler Avatar

    Avatar #6

    Back when I first realized my avatar with the shades was a little too retro, I had my wife snap some pictures of me and this was one of them. I don’t think I’ve used this one anywhere yet.


  • Derek Semmler Avatar

    Avatar #7

    This was another one from the same photo shoot, and happens to be the one that probably is used in the most places right now. Don’t I look like a model? Ok…maybe not.



So what do you think?
Out of the seven avatars displayed above, which one should I be using to consistently represent my brand across the Interweb?
Or should I head back into the photo studio for a better picture?
Let me know what you think!

Stay In The Loop!

Subscribe to the Derek Semmler dot com feed via RSS or Email to receive notifications when new posts are published. Follow the WordPress ninja on Twitter too!

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve@Free iPods January 16, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Definitely number 3 I’d say, Derek.
The rest make you look like an extra from the first Season of Prison Break šŸ™‚

Reply

derek January 17, 2009 at 1:37 am

Lol, I’d gladly take a role as an extra (even though I’ve never watched the show).
Thanks for your feedback.

Reply

Amy@Free Xbox 360 May 7, 2009 at 4:58 am

3 is good, but personally I prefer 4. You look friendly, and this avatar looks like you’re wearing what you would everyday, which I think is important. I agree about the prison break for the others!

Reply

Kelvin Kao January 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

#1, #3, #7 are the ones that I’m most used to seeing. Never seen the one with shades. Have seen the ones with facial hair but those are for special occasion. I think it’d be fun to be an extra from Prison Break.
Kelvin Kaos last blog post..Between the Lions: My Once (Now Second) Favorite PBS Show

Reply

derek January 17, 2009 at 1:38 am

Yeah, those three are the ones that I have been using in various places. The one with shades is still out there, although I think only at BlogCatalog now.
Appreciate the input.

Reply

Michael Kwan @ Beyond the Rhetoric January 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

I vote for either #3 or #7. They have a little more punch to them, while remaining approachable and likable.
#1 is a little “blah”
#2 is out of date
#4 and #5 don’t look as professional, largely because of the beard
#6 doesn’t look “friendly”
Michael Kwans last blog post..Seeking a Second Opinion

Reply

derek January 17, 2009 at 1:40 am

I’ve not been happy with #1 (which is used over at TMP) since the day that I sent it over to Wendy. I was worried that #3 was a little too staged (aka cheesy) but it seems that it is well received.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Reply

Neil@PS3 January 17, 2009 at 2:22 am

I think #3 looks the most professional. If you are using it topromote a brand then it needs to put you in a professional light and not be too informal.
#3 for me.

Reply

derek January 17, 2009 at 11:46 pm

Thanks for the additional feedback Neil.

Reply

Ling@Uptake January 17, 2009 at 7:08 am

No. 3 or 6, I think. if, that is, you’re limiting your choice to these pics. If you want to broaden the scope, I suggest a picture of you with one of your kids. I know it sounds a bit weird, but it seems to work best.

Reply

derek January 17, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Not a bad idea, although my wife has really resisted putting any pictures of our kids online. She doesn’t mind me plastering my mug all over the place but would like to keep our children offline as much as possible.
Thanks for the suggestion though.

Reply

Tom Lindstrom January 17, 2009 at 7:39 am

I think you must the exact same avatar all the time so people recognize you.If you need to choose an avatar from above, I would go for #3.
Tom Lindstroms last blog post..Working From Home Stuffing Envelopes

Reply

derek January 18, 2009 at 12:54 am

That is exactly why I am opening up this vote, as I need to be consistent across all of my various Interweb profiles to be using the same avatar.
Appreciate the input.

Reply

Nicole Price January 17, 2009 at 8:36 am

Avatar #6.
Nicole Prices last blog post..MP3 Music

Reply

derek January 18, 2009 at 12:54 am

Thanks for voting!

Reply

Stan @ iPod January 18, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Number 3 is the most professional Derek but it depends what kind of image you want to give your brand.
I personally like number 4 because of how informal it is.
I’m not sure you should limit yourself to one picture as it depends on your target audience. As long as you make yourself recognizable in all the pictures you use then it shouldn’t harm your brand.
Stan

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 10:17 pm

See, I have to admit that I kind of liked #4 as well because it was a little more informal. Although I have been leaning towards #3 for the reasons that many here have mentioned.
Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts.

Reply

JC January 18, 2009 at 6:08 pm

generically I’d say 3 or 1, but it may depend on your brand and image.
JCs last blog post..Posh Fronts Armani Campaign, While Lindsay Lohan Scores Fornarina Deal

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Personally, I don’t like #1 at all and think it has an almost “creepy” look to it as I tried to keep my eyes open for the picture.

Reply

BigMick@Domain Names January 18, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Number 3 gets my vote.
It doesn’t looked staged, it looks professional.
I think it portrays your casual look in a professional manner.

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Appreciate your input.

Reply

indian call center January 19, 2009 at 2:39 am

#1, #2, #6 are the ones that Iā€™m most used to seeing

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 10:18 pm

So you’re a big BlogCatalog user?

Reply

Jesse@SoLinkable January 19, 2009 at 11:28 am

Ahhh good timing with this post. I’ve been meaning to update my mybloglog avatar for some time now. Every time I comment somewhere I see that awful SL that I threw together in a few seconds with photoshop. It’s sooo ugly. I just need to set aside some time and force myself to do it.
As for your actual question in the post. I would stick with #3 or #7. They are by far the best two. You need a picture that’s close enough for people to really recognize your facial features.
Jesses last blog post..Five Concept Cars That Shook Detroit

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Lol, you might want a close picture if you actually “want” people to recognize your facial features. šŸ˜‰
The next time you comment here, I want to see an updated avatar from you!

Reply

Jesse@SoLinkable January 28, 2009 at 8:20 pm

OK done! Alright, it isn’t the most professional picture to be throwing around on the internet, but at least it isn’t that awful SL… All of my good pictures are on the other computer, and so this is the best picture from facebook šŸ™‚
Jesses last blog post..FTC slaps Do Not Call Violators with $1.2 Million in penalties

Reply

Ian Fernando January 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm

hey buddy all your eyes are opening in all these avatars!!
Ian Fernandos last blog post..Affiliate Summit West 2009: Day 3

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Lol, you don’t know how many pictures were snapped to get one with my eyes open.
As a funny side note, when I had #3 taken the photographer said we could shoot as long as necessary to get a photo that I liked. I told her we could shoot all day long and it wasn’t going to get any better than that, so we went with it.

Reply

Nick@romandock dot com January 19, 2009 at 7:56 pm

My first choice would be #3 followed closely by #7
I agree that it’s a good idea to have a consistent avatar, but then my question is whether you should be promoting the brand as a whole or the individual sites that are part of that brand when you comment and such.
Nicks last blog post..Sunday Snapshots – 013

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 10:24 pm

That is a question that I have debated myself and have decided that I want to promote myself as the face of my brand. As a matter of fact, that question is what led me towards the creation of Red Staple Media as I felt everything was to separated the way it was.

Reply

Nick@romandock dot com January 19, 2009 at 11:30 pm

So then when you comment, should you be leaving the url pointing to red staple media or a specific site or whichever site you happen to be working on promoting at the time?
Nicks last blog post..Sunday Snapshots – 013

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Generally speaking, I leave the URL of the site that relates the closest to the content of where I am leaving a comment. Therefore, I rarely leave the RSM URL anywhere, as that site isn’t really active and I prefer to have people land on an active blog.

Reply

Steve January 19, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Avatar #4 is great. Go-tee and the hat. Perfect.

Reply

Nick@romandock.com January 19, 2009 at 9:54 pm

It might be depending upon the image that he is trying to portray šŸ™‚
Nicks last blog post..Sunday Snapshots – 013

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm

As I mentioned above, I do like that picture but I am not convinced it fits the overall image I want to extend to people that don’t know me yet.

Reply

Jackson January 19, 2009 at 9:58 pm

I think that #3 has the most character. if you are creating a brand, I would like to think that you are associating character with that brand to give it unique qualities.
Jacksons last blog post..How to Deal with Disappointment

Reply

derek January 19, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Thanks for the feedback Jackson.

Reply

Johnny January 20, 2009 at 4:43 am

Number 3 or 5 I think. Best photos are the ones where you have a friendly image: informal and with a good smile, it’s a “warmer” image for the user that read you.

Reply

Jerry@Graphic Design Conferences January 20, 2009 at 2:35 pm

I think an avatar is important for consistency on your blog posts. When you give out good information, people will easily recognize your other posts and look to you again for more useful information.

Reply

olly@cheap computer parts January 22, 2009 at 3:22 am

As a commentor I would say #7 is how I would instantly recognise you – simply because you have used this image in all of your comment responses.
In my mind that is your brand image – though there would be no harm in re branding if done correctly!

Reply

Richard@Littman Bros. January 26, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I think an avatar is a great way to reinforce your brand. People will associate the good advice and service with your brand. It is a great and free way to market your company.

Reply

Ste@iPhone March 21, 2009 at 3:57 pm

An avatar is indeed succesful – shown to great effect in Money Saving Expert.
i just need to find a good photo of me now!

Reply

Komodo Dragon April 9, 2009 at 3:13 am

It’s funny how its the same person, you offcourse Derek, but with just some small feature changes the look changes completely. But.. by now looking at your avatar it seems you already have chosen an avatar, good thing too, because I thought all of the avatars were great, and for me at least it was a hard decision to even arrive at a “best” lol.

Reply

Veronica Cervera@miami beach condos August 6, 2011 at 12:59 am

I’d go for either #3 or #4, Derek. Seem warm and accommodating.

Reply

tom August 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

Nice article.
Can’t wait for the new episode. should be out at 2012

Reply

Lisa Plant September 14, 2011 at 6:58 am

The number #3 and #6 avatars are good examples! Branding is one of the best ways to become more consistent in building an online presence. It can also be very helpful in setting goals on how you will strategize and organize your materials. Thanks for sharing this post!

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: