Covert branding works against you

Would you buy a product you cannot see that hasn’t even got a name? Thought not. Still some people believe they can get a following on social media by branding themselves that way.

identity, covert branding, social media, Linkedin, Facebook, branding, covert branding, ghost, transparency,

Would you do business with a ghost? Thought not, and the same applies to the rest of humanity. So leave covert branding behind and start reaping the benefits of social media.

How can you take people seriously when they hide their identity? Obviously you should not post your contact details on social media. But your name and picture are essential if you want to be taken seriously.

A statue cannot sign a contract

Hiding takes away fear and I can understand that to some extent. But what’s the point of using social media if you are afraid of it? And what’s there to be afraid of? Apart from people who, usually for dodgy reasons, are using a fake identity, social media is a wonderful thing that people should embrace and make the most of.

But when you hide behind a photograph of, say a rose, and an alias you give the impression you have something to hide. So if you haven’t, what’s the point in making people suspicious? Chances of getting new customers, a job offer or business proposals are next to none if you are not transparent.

Identity theft doesn’t only take place online

Some people hiding claim they are afraid of identity theft. Seriously that can unfortunately happen even if you have no presence whatsoever online. All it takes is for a letter with your essential details to fall into the wrong hands. And,deplorable as it is, it happens all the time. Both in the real world and online.

Fearful leaders and entrepreneurs

Is it really feasible that so many people priding themselves to be leaders and entrepreneurs are afraid of online identity theft and posting a photograph or name? Seriously they wouldn’t be leaders and entrepreneurs if that was the case. So why are they hiding? Far from all of them are con-men, so why don’t they post their names and photographs?

Linkedin is not Facebook

If you use Facebook to communicate with your friends only, anything goes. But on business networks, such as Linkedin, you have to come across as a serious person. Posting a picture of yourself half naked doesn’t do the trick. Or a picture that makes you look dishonest. Chose a photograph that makes you look business like. It’s not a question of being ugly or beautiful but looking like a person businesspeople would like to be associated with.

Like products without logos

Imagine walking into a supermarket with your shopping list and all the logos and descriptions had disappeared from the products displayed. How would you know what they were? Even a simple thing like buying a can of Coca Cola would be difficult because you wouldn’t know what was in the different cans. And how would you know if you were picking up a bottle of shampoo or body lotion?

Learn from 007

There are covert agents on social media aiming to influence public opinion pro whatever country they are working for. They don’t want to draw negative attention to themselves and I can guarantee you that they all post a name, appropriate photograph and a credible profile. If not, how would they be able to do their job?

Would you do business with a ghost? Exactly, and you are not the only one. The same applies to the rest of humanity. So do yourself a favour by refraining from covert branding and display your photograph and name on social media. When people take you seriously, things can happen out of the blue and the positive aspects of social media will be available to you. Invisible branding works against you so unless you are in a witness protection program, or something similar, be transparent and start reaping the benefits of social media.

Photo: dawnzy58 – Flickr

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52 Responses to “Covert branding works against you”

  1. keyuri joshi Says:

    You raise an excellent point Catarina. About 95% of the people I know research products and companies on the interent before making their choice as a consumer. Seeing a logo establishes "trust" while seeing a smiling face establishes "likability". Both help to create a business relationship. It applies to companies who collaborate as well. You mention professionalism. LinkedIN is an easy place for this and I suspect Twitter is too. Facebook raises the question of which page to use when conducting business. Facebook Pages are meant for business but some social media experts are suggesting that this perspective is less "likable" than using a personal page. I guess this would be more of a concern for the smaller companies.

  2. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me that posting a picture on your profile is important, Keyuri.

  3. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes, go and get an appropriate photograph. Seems this article is swiftly having an impact!!

  4. Caroline Says:

    Catarina, I am delighted to have met you online. I greatly enjoy reading your articles.
    This article has made me realize that I look much like… a ghost on my Linkedin photo.
    But after all, I am indeed a ghost of the SAP world; one whose work was left unfinished, that is, making the SAP world a better place. :-)

    My recent post Leo Apotheker – What makes me- me

  5. GuyW Says:

    Another good posting on branding oneself, Catarina. As you say – one should distinguish between professional and private personas on the web (as in life) and ensure that your professional persona (e.g on LinkedIn) is depicted in this way at all times.

    And, as your previous posts have described, this goes well beyond just the photo…

  6. catarinaalexon Says:

    Your choice "Delphi Bunny". If it gives you business, job offers, connections and respect it obviously works for you. Maybe your the exception to the rule?

  7. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree Guy.

  8. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Caroline. Glad you enjoy my articles.

  9. Beth Horne-Farmer Says:

    Catarina,

    LinkedIn is a networking site where I share my comments and opinions with other business professionals. What I look like has absolutely no bearing in this instance, my words speak for me in this forum. I am not selling a thing here, I need not attract anyone with my looks, and if someone does not agree with what I say, they are free to argue their points with me. I keep my picture private so I don't attract unwanted attention AWAY from my conversation points Yes, there are those of us who have had issues with others seeing our picture online and deciding to take things in an inappropriate direction. As for Facebook, I don't advertise there, nor do I contact clients on social networks, that is for friends only, and they know what I look like and I post pictures as I see fit. I'll stick to advertising (which I have twenty years experience with, having owned an agency) in classy methods, and not by pulling clients into my office with my looks.

  10. Jeff Says:

    The only thing I notice is that the bunny has no endorsements. I've endorsed many humans with faces, but no bunnies. That being said, I agree with Caterina – if it works for you then great!

  11. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thanks Jeff. Glad we agree.

  12. Michael Thuma Says:

    Oh, no business, no chance. In this point I definitely agree with you. From this perspective your blog entry is totally correct. Who would do business with a hare – no chance? The forums are filled with jugglers and quacksalvers especially when it comes to SAP and Enterprise IT, believe me, people that just want your advice for free, bring lots of work and ….

    Anyway staying authentic has two advantages
    a) You meet the people that fit into your world and vice versa – the world is big enough for all
    b) This way you don't run at risk to burn out – The risk of the disguise never the work

    Business works different – finally it is all about if someone stands with you back on back in Alamo and says, 'Only 2000 left', we kick their … Some one who hides is not one of those. Maybe the little older economy the tactical moves are little more limited … here the long term reliability in terms of conventional fulfilling a contract is enough. We ride the rainbow and we don't ask – why.

    The Delphi Bunny is a bunny … you must accept this … if you are prepared to accept then you are a major step forward. Michael Thuma will never be in the position to take Walldorf down. This requires a lot more … ;). We will beat the beasts lowlands before Heidelberg … but you know everything takes time but it is inevitable. First we will protect Austria against them – this is why we rebuild the danube limes. This is the bunnies crusade, not mine.

    Linkedin has prooven to me as a valuable source for people who have good new ideas, you find maybe one in 2 years but this one makes sense and you have a realistic chance to be the third because you somehow seem to be honest and from Sweden this is always good.

    Grettings
    Mike

  13. catarinaalexon Says:

    Michael, seems you agree with me. Since you don't get any business from social media why are you using social media? What's your strategy?

  14. Kay Wilson Says:

    This is really good advice. I consider FB & tweets like a cocktail party and I am getting to meet & greet new friends everyday. Love it! Thanks for such an informative article & I look forward to seeing more of your articles & coming back often.

  15. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you like it Kay!!

  16. Rob Berman Says:

    Catarina:

    If someone is hiding their identity I am much less likely to connect with them. If someone follows me on Twitter I do not follow them back when they have no tweets.

    The analogy about the labels on products in the store is a great one.

    Social Media is here and needs to be embraced not scorned.

    Rob
    My recent post Product Development- 9 Critical Lessons Learned

  17. Catherine Lockey Says:

    haha! Are you sure about that Linkedin picture remark?? Yes, it's important to be oneself on social media – different degrees of oneself for different platforms. I used to just have a graphic on my twitter account and learned fast that a real picture of me is what my followers expected.
    My recent post My daughter is doing WHAT on Facebook

  18. Dennis Salvatier Says:

    I love your supermarket analogy. I think I may use that next time I get asked "why a logo?". I can see self-conscious people hiding behind a picture of a sunset to avoid the feeling of being exposed, but you're right, it makes you look dodgy. being transparent is the only way to be to be successful in social media. Great post.

  19. Eric Says:

    Great post. I always like to know potential contacts on social networking sites and if there is no real information (including a photo) it turns me away. That goes for researching products, such as authors of reports or company founders. If a website doesn't have any information on who is behind the idea, company or product, it makes me nervous. I end up picturing the guy in a current TV ad, who answers the customer service line as Peggy, with a thick foreign accent, and unable to help the customer at all and obviously working for a company that doesn't care.
    My recent post How to Survive a Robbery

  20. catarinaalexon Says:

    Love the fact that my supermarket analogy will come in handy for you Dennis. It's true isn't it? Imagine wanting shampoo and ending up with body lotion…

  21. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you like it Eric. Funny how people don't realize we are all products and can't sell ourselves like a white bottle with no name or information on it.

  22. catarinaalexon Says:

    Like your story about having a graphic on Twitter and that it worked better to use a photograph. Haven't you seen the photographs of half naked people on Linkedin?

  23. catarinaalexon Says:

    Rob, I'm glad you like my analogy about labels on products in stores and that social media is here and to be embraced. Transparency is essential, or they end up like products without labels.

  24. Sherry Zander Says:

    I agree with you entirely. For me, a site that does not provide a picture and name of a specific person or persons lacks credibility. I wouldn't invest a penny in anything sold from that site. I also like what Michele Welch said about the Twitter egg logo. If you're really serious about marketing yourself and want to gain people's trust, you gotta show a little bit of yourself to do it!
    My recent post SPAM Ba-Bam!

  25. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree completely Sherry.

  26. rmemazz Says:

    I appreciate all the points of view.
    I had to talk my web master into designing a really cleaver way to accomplish "the best of both worlds" for my portrait shot on my facebook.
    He did my professional photo -and when you pass the cursor across the photo my avatar appears~!
    Satisfying that I am a professional with a sense of humor.
    But I agree with the idea that the "face" we present to the public is a personal choice.
    And like hats we can have more than one~!

  27. chad Says:

    good point! i like to think that my site has a touch of my identity to it, but i don't have any pictures up. will have to consider updating pics and bios of me and my writers.

  28. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you like it, Chad. The sooner your Linkedin profile has a picture on it, the better:-)

  29. Geek Girl Says:

    As you know I use the Geek Girl persona. My LinkedIn profile has my real headshot and my blog has Geek Girl. Twitter also has Geek Girl. Facebook has a profile for both. I am not hiding from anyone. I use Geek Girl as my branding. I totally support the point you are making. I just think there are exceptions to every rule. :)

  30. Shawn Hessinger Says:

    Catarina,
    I think the tradition of anonymous posting started with personal blogs and similar means of personal online expression where some wanted the opportunity to share their feelings and perhaps get some feedback on their thoughts from others without necessarily jeopardizing career or other traditional social connections by revealing their true identities. Obviously, use of blogging and social media for business is a very different matter and must be handled accordingly for the reasons you've outlined. Great post!
    My recent post Bing Tagging Can Make Your Website It!

  31. catarinaalexon Says:

    True, Cheryl – or should I say Geek Girl:-)

  32. catarinaalexon Says:

    Shawn, glad you agree with me that it's different when it comes to business – or career for that matter. Have you noticed how many members of Linkedin hide their identity? What can they possibly get out of that on a business network?

  33. @patweber Says:

    One of the worst things to be online with is that default avatar. Seriously, would anyone take you seriously at a business in-person event if you showed up with a bag over your head or no clothes on? Oh yeah! They'd take you seriously in another regard.
    My recent post How to Get a Deeper Voice for Public Speaking by Guest Blogger Lewis Walsall

  34. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Pat.

  35. Doreen Pendgracs Says:

    I agree with you, Catarina. I think it's important to clearly identify who you are and what you stand for, online and in person.

    It really turns me off when someone with that egghead default images follows me on Twitter. I rarely follow them back.
    My recent post travel writing tips

  36. findingourwaynow Says:

    I agree with you. You become and are more credible if they see a picture of a really person. If you have a logo/brand, using that logo in conjunction with your name and picture only makes it that much more powerful. I chose to become an LLC (Limited Liability Company) for professional purposes and it has helped me give the impression that I'm serious about what it is I'm doing. So, not sharing my name and picture would seem counter to my intent, don't you think?
    My recent post Rutherford Hill Merlot 2006: Wine

  37. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree. Have you noticed how many members of Linkedin that hide not to only their face but then on top of it use a nickname. Who would want to do busines or hire such a person?

  38. JeriWB Says:

    Along those lines, I find myself frustrated by the recent update to the Twitter iPhone and iPad app. The user's profile no longer shows when you go to their profile page. It only shows when using a computer. I will hesitate to follow someone if their picture is not a photo of themselves, but the real deal breaker for me now hinges on the information provided in the brief Twitter biography. Cute and quirky just don't cut it, nor does mysterious…
    My recent post Book Review: Embryo by J. A. Schneider

  39. Bryan P. Hollis Says:

    Hi Beth,
    It is a rare instance that this approach is successful. While I disagree with it in general and for me personally, I can only say that if it is not adversely effecting your network quality, then I consider you lucky, so all the best to your technique,
    Bryan

  40. catarinaalexon Says:

    Agree with you Jeri. But the same thing goes on on Linkedin, unfortunately.

  41. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree Bryan. Mickey Mouse just doesn't do the trick on Linkedin.

  42. Peter Egan Says:

    I am truly befuddled as to how anyone can think that the covert 'under-the-radar' approach to marketing described herein could actually be of benefit to one's brand. I do recognize that many, many small companies try this approach. I just am at a complete loss for why…
    My recent post Long Beach (MS) New Home to EGAN Medical E-Commerce Fulfillment Center

  43. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Peter. Private individuals are the worst offenders when it comes to covert branding. Why would anyone want to do business or hire a rose with a nick name?

  44. Peter Egan Says:

    I do not know the answer to that one. Then again, I did minor in marketing in college, but at the same time I'm more inclined to see this one as common sense more than any benefit of a formal education. The whole point of marketing is to get your brand out there, get your name out there, make yourself and/or company appear to be important — whether you/it is or not.

    Marketing to a man is much like the courting of a single woman. One must convey confidence that he is the best man for the job – again, whether true or not – he just has to convince her of that in order to get her. In marketing, the only difference is that the pretty lady is the customer, client, etc.

    Two other notes of interest:

    1. I really admire the diligence with which you monitor and reply to your blog comments. Admittedly, there is absolutely no way I could do that with all of the sites and blogs I publish to. My hat's off to you both for your writing and your engagement skills.

    2. Bryan P. Hollis referred me here from BlogInteract. Just thought you should know where at least this visitor came from. ;-)

  45. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Peter.

  46. keepupweb Says:

    Catarina, I agree with you. People like to do business with people who they like and trust. I think that's one of the reasons that Google Authorship is becoming so popular. I search for a lot of answers online. When the search results are presented and I scan the page, I am much more apt to click on a link when I recognize the author by their profile pic. I already know that I can trust that person to provide valuable content. I believe that people who aren't branding themselves online are missing opportunities.
    My recent post What Google Authorship Means for SEO

  47. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree Sherryl. What you say is my opinion as well.

  48. catarinaalexon Says:

    Maybe Dan. But a blog is slightly different from social media. Only some bloggers hide their identity while a multitude do on social media. And what's worse, they expect to get a job and do more business by hiding their identity.

  49. Adeline Yuboco Says:

    I couldn't have said it any better, Catarina! Unfortunately, the Internet has made it possible for people to accuse and make claims about people and companies left and right without having them reveal who they are. It brings to mind my favorite quote from Spiderman: With great power, comes great responsibility. Every one is enjoying the great power to express themselves and their opinions online. But sadly, not everyone is willing to grasp the responsibility part.
    My recent post An Intimate Affair with Spanish Wine at the ASEAN Merchants Launch

  50. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Adeline. Wonder how long it will be possible for people to avoid taking responsibility for what they do online?:-)

  51. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree Doreen.

  52. macman Says:

    The post provides a very realistic approach towards brand building. Many people consider the social media as a brand promotion tool, but don't know how to do that properly that results in just the opposite.
    My recent post Business Intelligence Software For Top Decision Making

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