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Your Name

If you’re a teenager and you’re online, you’ve probably been bombarded with tons of internet safety messages. I’m sure you’ve heard the basic rules over and over again:

Don’t give out your personal information online

Don’t meet online friends unless you know them in real life

Don’t click on the “you’re the millionth visitor” pop-up

Here’s an excellent video, created by the same folks who won our Break the Silence PSA Contest, that shows why it’s important to think about what you post online.

There are a lot of important rules about internet safety. Wouldn't it be nice if we had one rule that could make the others obsolete? Maybe we do. Have you ever heard of branding? No, not the kind of branding where you take a hot iron to the backside of a cow. I’m talking about the branding that businesses do.

Here’s an example. If I ask you to think of a company that makes soft drinks, the majority of you will think of Coke or Pepsi. Coke and Pepsi are both brands (or brand names).

So, why do we think of these brands? It isn’t just about the number of commercials they’ve run. Coke, for example, has specific trademarks…




Public profile:

You may not have a fancy logo all your own, a catchy slogan, or a celebrity spokesperson but you are just as much in the public eye as Coca-Cola because your public profile is on Facebook just like theirs. Coke has to think long and hard about each image, each video, and each comment they post online. Since Facebook users can post freely to the fan page, they even have a disclaimer that states, “Please understand that comments posted to this Page do not represent the opinions of The Coca-Cola Company.”

Do you have to put a disclaimer like that on your own Facebook page? Of course not. But here’s something to think about; college recruiters and potential bosses are looking at your online profile and making decisions based on what they see. With that in mind I would encourage you to think of yourself as a brand name. And think of your Facebook/MySpace/etc. page as a place to advertise your brand. As a matter of fact, I dare you to create your own logo and slogan and share your ideas here!

Does branding take some work and some creativity? Sure it does, but if you don’t control your public profile someone might get the wrong message…

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