Question of the Week: How do I fix my Scattered Personal Brand?

Image by: Dan Shirley
The Question of the Week comes from Ezra, who read and wanted to expand on some of the ideas discussed in my Pillar Article: How to be a Design Superstar.

I am a movie director (somewhere between newbie and
“superstar” as I do manage to get paid now, somehow.. and am joining the dirs. union). I have just finished my third feature movie. In addition to directing movies, I do a bunch of editing (TV, film, commercials etc.) So my question is: how do I brand myself on the web, what is it that I want people to see when they look me up? I know this is left field of graphic design superstardom but it all seems related..
Obviously they will see my IMDB page which lists my past work but then they will click to what? I have a confusing and unfocused web presence and really need to get it on point..

Actually Ezra, is not the first person to ask this question, I actually have received a few questions of the same nature. The answer actually revolves around Point 3: Buy your name as a dot com, and therefore I think it is a good time to expand on that point.
While I am not a Search engine optimization (SEO) expert, I do at least understand the a few SEO basics to explain why it is important buying your name as a dot com domain name.
Firstly the Internet tends to be like that of a spider web located in a great cross-wind. It catches all the good bits, but it gets splattered all over the “web”. This is also the problem that Ezra is experiencing. Basically Google search is damn good at what it does, and therefore if you do a Google search it returns everything it can find on you in its results based on a descending order of relevance.
Now the objective of this discussion is to be that big spider at the center of the web. So when people look for you on the web you want people to that “big spider” first, rather than all the other splatters. In Google terms it means you want to come up at the top of the search results. Not only that you want to manage what people see as this “big spider” as well.
As hinted in the previous paragraphs this means getting to the top of the search in terms of most relevance. As what Google searches for is websites, it means you have to bite the bullet to create your own. If you are serious about your personal branding, and want to manage what people will learn about you on the Internet, the best way is to start your own personal website.
Not only that, if a keyword (your name etc.) is part of the URL or web address, Google will see it as more relevant than a website with the name in the body text. This would also mean that you will beat out all the other networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or
Now you can use Facebook or LinkedIn any other website that has your profile as your “face” online, but the problem is that your name keyword will be lost within the body and thus you will have problems fighting with all the other “web splatters” to come up tops. You can however “re-direct” your domain name to a profile page on a networking site, but if you have gone this far it is not much more to set up full website.
Here are some other tips in buying your name as a dot com and setting up your site.
1) Where possible always try to buy a dot com. It is a top level domain (TLD), and the most frequently searched for. If dot com is not available (very likely), try dot net or dot org. Though dot net was meant for networks and dot org for non-profit organizations, there are still considered TLDs.
2) If you cannot get your name as a, go with a dot net instead. Worst case, then goes with a dot org. Don’t be too worried as the important thing is to try and get your name keyword in the URL as much as possible.
3) If you cannot get your name as a keyword for all .com/.net/.org as your name could be already purchased or you have a similar name to that of a celebrity, the next thing you can try is to buy a domain name that is a keyword or your personal brand. You remember that SWOT analysis you did on yourself? You can now apply some of the terms here as part of your domain name.
4) So if you decided to use other keywords from your personal brand as keywords in your domain name URL, do make sure you have your real name as a keyword in your website description. This can be a powerful way to differentiate your self, and many personal sites have such brand keywords as domain names. This is one!
5) You might like to consider using Content Management Systems (or CMS) such as Blogging backbone or self-hosted; or perhaps the more flexible Drupal to help be your backbone of your site, so that you would only need to focus on your content.
6) Now that you have planted a stake on that central spot on the web as a “big spider”, you now have what I would call a node. If you create a section that links to all the other “relevant” posts about yourself on the web you can have some measure of control of how people will see your web persona.
Ok that is about it! This article focused more on the concept of setting up a website, rather than the details of doing so. I kept it fairly generic as there are tons of other sites that do a better job of teaching you the details of setting up a website, improve your SEO, and use WordPress etc.
At the end of the day the most important thing to remember is no matter how you do it, get that name keyword as a domain name as a first big step!
Best of luck Erza, and do let me know if you or any of my other dear readers need more help?

  • DT

    June 16, 2008 at 9:29 am Reply

    Hi Jerry,
    Your advice is a fantastic nugget of gold.
    If I may add, basically you are looking for a niche and differentiation so that you can stand out. No use pitting against the leaders, leverage on your strengths and use that to your advantage.
    Thanks Jerry, please keep in touch.

  • Jerry B

    June 16, 2008 at 9:04 am Reply

    When considering branding yourself, consider that it is the space available in people’s minds that you are trying to find and latch onto….then, the ideal is to be the “category leader” there. Regarding actor directors, number one is probably Clint Eastwood, but Spike Lee is number one in his own category. Was there a great actor director who is no longer around, whose category you might overtake? Sidney Pollack, perhaps….The key to Sidney was his ability and discipline to generate an articulated spine for each piece of work. Eg. Tootsie’s spine was how can dressing like a woman make you more of a man?
    I’m a big believer in authenticity and genuineness….as you recognize the parts of you that are alarmingly only you and figure a way to wear them right, no one can be you like you can.
    That’s the treasurer’s report for now.

  • Ezra G

    June 3, 2008 at 11:27 am Reply

    Thanks very much for the thoughtful advice. Luckily I snatched up a while back.

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