Have you ever noticed the source of the article you are reading? I'm referring to the image, picture, icon or graphic of the blogger, writer, author of the content, site or book. When you visit a site and you see the image/icon of an author you’ve seen before - don’t you get the tiniest sense of reliability and or confidence in the material of a site you’ve landed upon. It can go both ways:  if you (or the author your reading-viewing) find a page and you recognize that the image belongs to an author your less than thrilled with – you might move on quickly to a different site. That’s okay too; there’s no sense in hanging around reading someone’s work you dislike.

Monkey in MakeupCredit: Cory Stophlet & MorgueFiles 2015

Many of us InfoBarrel (IB) members use our own images for our identifying icon or avatar. It helps us relate to our readers and friends. It helps us with that old fashion notion of branding our work with our face. Have you ever thought about how your icon, face, avatar serves as your “branding” image? Every writer faces it (pun intended). Every company and organization must address it. So what is your brand-image my fellow IB writers? [1]

Branding as a Writer versus a Business

There’s little difference in branding as a business and branding as a writer.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “brand recognition.” If not, it refers to the instant identification of the business or organization’s name associated with an easily recognized visual image – As examples: the four square icon of blue, red, green and yellow signifying Microsoft Corporation, the apple silhouette representing Apple Inc., or personalities like “Flo” (Stephanie Courtney) from Progressive Insurance, or the gecko character for GEICO Insurance. You see the image or the personality and you instantly know what business it represents; what it is about and often a sense of good, bad, indifference, confidence, distrust, excitement, or interest and so on. It’s the same with a writer’s visual image; as a writer you eventually become associated with a certain face, look, icon and the danger with using a graphic as opposed to your real face is that anyone can use the same graphic. If they present a bad internet or publishing impression – and someone sees your page with that same or similar image, they will likely have a negative image about you - as if you are the same person publishing poor content.

MarketingCredit: Pixabay Public Domain Images
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Branding as a Writer

Using a character’s face, or a pet, plant or just the old monochrome smile graphic is okay – but, it tends to present an impression that the writer wants to keep some distance from his/her readers. Imagine if all the authors of all those books you’ve ever read or all the published books we know of hid their faces never to have their images associated with their hard work; their words; their creations. And, oh yes, don’t use someone else’s face to claim as your own. Taking a model’s, actor’s, entertainer’s or politician’s face and posting it as your own face is a bit tacky and possibly illegal (unless you have the person’s approval in writing). I realize it might seem innocent to some folks but it is not that simple the person whose image you’ve used. What you publish under that image/face becomes part of that person, entertainer, or actor’s branding. When someone sees that face they may remember what you wrote and it may not be a good thing.

No False Faces Please

I just have to mention this:  recently I looked up an IB member on Facebook (FB) because they noted that they have a FB address, so curiosity got me and I went to that FB page.  The real person was nothing like the IB content image. Why would a person have a FB page with person photos but not use it on IB? You may or may not be aware of the habit of some folks from a few countries outside of the English-speaking countries that often use an image/face of a person they swiped off Pixabay, MorgueFiles, Facebook, or even from the U.S. government websites. Yes, many of these are public domain images (except for Facebook); however, I don’t think that means you can claim that other person's face as your face.  

RobberCredit: cory stophlet, 2014
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A Name, a Face, an Image is Your Branding – It’s a Social Thing, a Confidence Thing

Image recognition matters. When you read the book “Tom Sawyer” or even hear that name do you get an instant picture of Mark Twain or do you see and image of a smiley face emoticon? I’ll bet you remember that fuzzy headed man with the bushy mustache and the white suit jacket. I bet the description I gave you brought Mark Twain’s image to mind. It’s true that the name Mark Twain itself is a pseudonym for Samuel Langhorne Clemens, but that really doesn’t change the fact that we associate a real face with a real person, the author.

There is a social aspect to writing for sites like InfoBarrel. We strive to gain followers, customers and readers from inside and outside the IB world. We want to be recognized as a legitimate source and resource for the web content topics we publish. You want to have your “recognition” extended to include your personal Blog Page or website. Writer’s icon, image, or graphic is important in branding recognition. If you write for multiple sites and you link/back-link your articles and content (including audio, video, image, blog) products, readers do notice the writer’s icon.Let’s bring things to current novel and author association: when I say the “Harry Potter” book series, and ask you to picture the author, do you picture a flower, a cartoon character, an obscure graphic or do you remember the author’s face (J. K. Rowling), even if you don’t remember her full name.

Final Word

Anonymity is fine, but when we are sharing our lives here, and especially if we have a Facebook page for the entire world to see, it’s a bit contradictory. And if you truly are in hiding, in the witness protection program, or whatever causes you to not to use your own image, please don’t use someone else’s face, an emoticon, blank space, or an unidentifiable blob or color. Show us your smiling face, or not so smiling face. In any case, you are what we see as well as what we read.