They say a picture speaks a thousand words. The same holds true for your online avatar, the one snapshot you have to illustrate your personal brand.
For those of you envisioning the 3D sci-fi epic, Avatar – I am actually speaking of the image you have chosen to represent your online presence. For example, the picture next to your bio on your website, profile pictures for Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter icons, etc. are all examples of your avatar.
Your image really is everything, especially if you want people to recognize you online and offline. I have provided some tips below to get the most out of your chosen photo. But, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it plenty of times more – the key to any successful personal brand is consistency. Whether you use the following as a checklist or not, above all else – keep your avatar consistent.
1. Be a recognizable version of yourself. This is especially important if you want your followers online to recognize you in person. A clear headshot will be the most beneficial for people viewing you online. We all know that individuals will do anything to stand out, for better or worse. The key here is not to get lost behind your avatar. There is nothing wrong with adding a little bit of flavor to your online image, but be sure you are staying true to your character. Remember, this is a crucial element of your personal brand. This is the face to go along with the brand, literally.
2. Give it your professional stamp of approval. There needs to be a sense of professionalism to your avatar, or else your audience may develop the wrong impression of you and your work. Here are some tips to remember when thoughtfully analyzing your online image:
- Your expression should express the emotion you want to portray.
- You are a person not a logo. If you haven’t already, it is recommended you have separate social media accounts for your product or service and yourself.
- Showcase your quality. The quality of your photo is a direct reflection of the quality of your work. Leave the blurriness out of your professional world. A sharp image represents your professionalism and your attention to detail.
3. Change is good, when necessary. Knowing how and when to update your avatar can be a difficult decision to make, but do not be afraid of it. If you have changed something about your appearance and you want to showcase your new look, go for it. The task of changing your image all over the World Wide Web seems daunting, but online tools like Gravatar can help make consistency simple. Remember, if a new avatar does not produce the results you were expecting, you can always change it back.
If you have yet to be convinced of the importance of your avatar, check out the infographic below to find out how your profile picture can damage your online personal brand:
The importance of your online photo should never be downplayed. After all, your avatar has your name attached to it.
How do you go about deciding which picture is best for your avatar? How does your avatar help define your personal brand?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.