I've recently begun a redesign of my portfolio and my biggest blocker is never knowing what to do for a logo or header. Then, last night, it hit me. You don't need to create anything. Crazy, right? Maybe not for some of you, but for a designer like me, that's unheard of.
So how do people recognize me?
The answer to this struck me while messing around on twitter, my face is my brand. I recognize people by their twitter avatar. When someone changes their avatar, I have no idea who is tweeting at me. This is incredibly strong branding and most people don't even realize it. Now just imagine if every place you were, virtually and physically, always had your brand. If you haven't figured it out yet, you can make this happen. Make your face your brand and you will reinforce whatever you stand for, everywhere you go. More than just your face being your brand, make one particular photo your brand, everywhere. I can't count the number of times I've seen the same people on different sites and recognized them only because they used the same photo. It's much weaker, and almost pointless, if you change your photo from place to place.
Dan Benjamin wrote a great post on his blog, Hivelogic, about the significance of your avatar, and how never changing it is the only way to go. Smart guy over there!
Trash that old logo
Some people want to use just their name or some forgettable mark. I was a disciple of this belief for the majority of my design career; I used a fedora and my name set in Museo. That's idiotic. I don't wear a fedora, and my name is unmemorable. If I'm banking on an employer remembering me they aren't going to think of the guy that had a fedora as his logo. They're going to remember my attitude, the interaction between us, and most importantly my face. When they're thinking of my face, I need it to be easily findable. I want it on the top of my résumé, website, and even my business cards!
Think about these cases
I bet you will recognize a few photos and their subject by a simple description, without even showing you the photo.
- Everyone knows the creator of Myspace, and that photo he never changed. Imagine if Tom changed his photo every week like most of the power social network users do. Tom would be nobody, unrecognizable, and forgotten forever. Now, even though Myspace is a joke, people from our generation will remember Tom and his face for a long time. In my opinion he is still more recognizable than Mark Zuckerberg.
- Remember that blonde bombshell from the 1950s in The Seven Year Itch? Standing above the subway vent, holding her white dress down, as the gust from below blew her dress every which way. Everyone knows that powerful picture of Marilyn Monroe and while she never intended for it to be her brand, it is definitely something she is remembered by.
- How about Steve Jobs? He knows this secret. You'll always see him in his black turtleneck and thin framed glasses. He actually recreates his single brand image every time he goes out in public. This is the perfect case of branding yourself. It may get boring, but it's instantly recognizable.
Actually doing it
Like anything else in life, if you're going to do this, don't half ass it. Don't find some weak camera phone picture of you somewhere. Pay, barter, or do whatever you need to get a good photographer to produce at least one good picture of you. thoughtbot hired Jamie Beck, a great photographer we know from New York City. She did an all star job and now we all have super photos to brand ourselves with. You should do the same, and see how much more people begin remembering and recognizing you.