It was innocent enough; a college friend left a comment on Facebook, using my full given name.

No problem, right?

Wrong! I was mortified.

There are very few places I use my full first name. If and when I do, those places include government forms, maybe medical forms but that is it! Everywhere else my name appears as “Mel” – and there’s a reason for it – “Mel Hopkins” is my Brand name.

“Mel Hopkins” is my ‘trademark’ attached to my Brand Identity.

For example, if you Google “Mel Hopkins” (with the moderate safe search on ;-)) on the first page you should find me and a Wales international football player with the same name. We are battling supremacy for the search engine. He may win. He has a Wikipedia page. Further, you will notice that each of my links is related to my professional endeavors. Even the social networking pages, where I’m listed, indicate I’m a writer.

If you haven’t noticed it yet – YOU also have a name associated with the BRAND that is YOU.

Let’s review the :advertising/marketing terms

Brand Identity
How the brand owner wants the consumer to perceive the brand …Brand identity is fundamental to consumer recognition and symbolizes the brand’s differentiation from competitors.

Brand name
A “brand name” constitutes a type of trademark, if the brand name exclusively identifies the brand owner as the commercial source of products or services…Most products have some kind of brand identity…

Brand Image
Wikipedia identifies a Brand Image as A brand is a collection of symbols, experiences and associations connected with a product, a service, a person or any other artifact or entity.
Brands have become increasingly important components of culture and the economy, now being described as “cultural accessories and personal philosophies”

Now I understand why my college friend wrote my name. He knows me personally not professionally…And here in cyberspace, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the personal from the professional you. You will have to, however, if you want to be successful at promoting your professional image on the internet.

Everywhere your name or even e-mail address appears, on internet, there is a cyber foot print left behind. And it’s those footprints that need to be managed in an effort to leave an accurate trail that represents the professional YOU.

Therefore, when I write about you managing your brand I’m not referring to social conservative speak that indicates you should remove questionable photos or on-line handles such as If Slick Tricky Dick dot com promotes your brand image then so be it! Just let there be consistency with promoting that brand.

For example, if you are appearing at a church function where you are hired as an expert panelist that espouses the perils of sexual solicitation – you should use your e-mail and web address to link to the event. After all, folks will be looking for the inside story from someone who knows their business.

However, if you are only the deacon/ess chairing an event for lets say “Teens and Sexual Abstinence” …maybe you should use your address for contact.

In short, make sure your cyber footprints leave a trail to your professional accomplishments. We all know those who are interested in hiring us, doing business with us or even dating us will Google our name. Therefore, allow your cyber presence to serve as your ePublicist, telling your story in your absence.

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