Use your avatar to build brand recognition

social website avatars

Your personal brand isn’t just everything about you. It’s also what others think about you. With the increase in social networking sites, avatars (those little images you upload from your computer to visually identify online profiles) play an important role in brand recognition.

A recent article by Andy Beard, How To Find The Digg Friends You Never Knew You Had, opened my eyes to how I’m not using avatars as best I can. The crux of the matter, and this post, is to be consistent.

David Airey's old Digg avatar

I’ve been using part of my logo in my Digg avatar (above), whereas for social networking sites (MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, etc.) I’ve been showing a photo. Not good practice, so the avatar below is now consistent across all profiles.

David Airey's new Digg avatar

If you show your photo, use the same one everywhere. If you show your personal logo, make it easy to remember, and again, use it everywhere. The key to using a mark or icon is to keep the detail to a minimum and use a high contrast. You don’t want people screwing their eyes, trying to make out what your avatar actually is.

Andy uses his avatar to good effect.

Andy Beard's Digg avatar

It’s his personal logo. It’s easy to remember and, most importantly, it’s consistent.

Does your avatar follow these simple rules?

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  1. I’m not sure whether my avatar is the most distincitve or memorable, but I’ve certainly been consistent across all blogs and all networking sites.

  2. What do you think of my avatar? ;)

  3. I think Ilker wants someone to say he’s hot. It won’t be me – but the avatar is nice.

  4. Just stumbled it

    Actually on SU I decided to just use a photo, rather than a logo. For some reason I decided to experiment.

  5. I use my face for avatar , because sex sells….

  6. My wife hates my avatar. But at least it’s consistent across the board ā€“ unlike my screenshots ā€“ ouch, gotta change those. ;)

  7. My avatar is simple, but it simply represents me :-)

  8. i’ve designed my avatar arround the logo i’ve designed for myself.
    it is consistent allover the net. i’m not sure though it is visible (it has more details than that of andy).

    if might be interesting to know which of the two alternatives would be more eficient: a simbol based avatar, or a self photograph avatar.

    what do you think?

    [is a design blog]

  9. Paul, do you change your avatar with your mood, as you do with your site? It’s looking very dark.

    Ilker, I’m not going to say you’re hot either, but I think the flower suits you.

    Andy, have you been able to figure out any results? Thanks for the Stumble.

    Brett, fair play. It’s not working with me but each to their own. ;)

    Ian, is your avatar not a real likeness?

    inspirationbit, going for the same approach as me. Good work, although webee asks an interesting question.

    webee, would a logo would work better than a photograph? I thought about changing my profiles to my logo, but as I only needed to change one to have them consistent with my photo I decided not to.

  10. I have been using the same illustration version of me for about 6 months. I like her because she stands out nicely in the crowd. A few people have suggested that I use my own picture instead, but that might be too confusing now.

    What do you think David?

  11. Good post David,

    I have been trying to make my Avatar as obvious as possible by literally writing on it what my blog is about. I guess this stops some visitors but hopefully my target audience immediately see what my blog is about. I hadn’t noticed you could add an Avatar to Digg, which is a good idea, I have now added one, thanks

  12. Tara, the orange really helps it stand out. I’ve been thinking about changing mine to the blue of my site header, with the D and A of my logo in white.

    Char, yours is quite original too. I like it. I see avatars where the owner is quite far from the camera, sitting on a chair for example. I don’t think that works.

  13. David
    I think yours Avatar pretty well recognised already and you wouldn’t want to lose that – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  14. Thanks Tara,

    I don’t know how well recognised my avatar is until other people tell me.

    You’re the first.

  15. I’m not hot!? :(

  16. What about your favicon?

  17. That’s what I had been thinking about changing to, Pinksy, my favicon.

  18. David, to answer your question: “I wonder, do you think a logo would be better?”

    I think it depends on what is our goal – do we want people to remember and associate a blog with the person behind it, or with the topic/theme/concept that blog is about.

    I guess the same question can be asked about what name should we put in the Comment’s field – our personal name or the name of our blog (for those who didn’t name their blog’s after themselves)?

    For instance, Tara is signing the posts with her name, but using the blog’s name for the avatar. I on the other case, sign the comments with my blog’s name, but use my picture in the avatar.

    Should we stick with the same thing for both – name and the avatar, or should we go on with our approach and have the two balance things out?

  19. I agree with the benefits of having a distinctive and consistent avatar. I usually just look at the avatars first because some are already familiar with me. I only look at the names when I’m not sure who the poster is.

  20. “Webee, Iā€™m curious as to whether a logo would work better than a photograph. I had contemplated changing all my profiles to my logo, but as I only needed to change one to have them consistent with my photo I decided against it.”

    hi david,

    i think you have already built recognition for your photograph. and it builds trust amongst readers. (it works for me at least :) ).

    if your intention is to atract new readers through your avatar, then i don’t think changing your avatar to your logo would do the trick, as it is not self explaining.

    if you just intend to change something, then do some minor photo change… (maybe build a photo series?)

    but if i were you, i wouldn’t change anything.
    it’s great as it is.

    [is a design blog]

  21. inspirationbit has a point!

  22. Vivien,

    I think it depends on what is our goal – do we want people to remember and associate a blog with the person behind it, or with the topic/theme/concept that blog is about.

    Great point. I’d agree that there’s no right or wrong. Just what fits with personal goals.

    Regarding how you sign your comments, there’s an interesting article on Dawud’s blog, titled: Do you brand yourself in your blog comments?

  23. Thanks for pointing to Dawud Miracle’s article. He made a very interesting point there – it’s easy to get lost in the sea of comments where there are thousands of people with the same name as you are.

    In my case, even though there are not many Vivien-s around, I don’t sign comments with my name and last name because very few people will know how to pronounce my last name, so I don’t want anyone going “Vivien… who?..”

    Secondly, if someone calls me Vivien when replying to my comments (like you just did), then I know that this person has visited my blog, and at least read the About page.

    And thirdly, if someone actually spells Vivien correctly (many people spell it Vivian), then I know that this person is paying attention to details and immediately gains my respect :-)

  24. David,

    I think some one has knick your logo!

    Check it out!

  25. DT there has been that discussion before, they are just using the same font.

    Both started out with 2 letters


    It is interesting the differences in positioning of the letters and the shading.

  26. Personally, I remember logos much better than I do faces in avatars. I began using my webduck logo just on a whim (because I hate pictures of me!), but then I began adding it everywhere. It’s on my blog Pentimento, as well as my newest WP blog iPentimento. It is my “brand” and people will still know that it is my site no matter the name of the blog.

  27. Thanks Vivien!

    I do my best spell names correctly. I think it comes from my second name, and constantly having to make sure others spell it right. Well, I’m sure being a graphic designer makes me focus on details too.


    Cheers for pointing that out, although as Andy said, Maki at Dosh Dosh and I have had a discussion on our logos. One of my old computer drafts is much closer to Maki’s logo, so I’m glad I continued to change it from here:


    Your avatar stands out from the rest in my sidebar images, even if the type is almost illegible. Good work.

  28. Hmm I supposed so, but it is confusing, and if its about setting somthing up for self branding purposes, i think its not the strongest solution.

  29. David, I guess that just makes for ‘mystery’ to see what is written below the image of my duck. ;)

  30. I’m trying to figure out how the images are showing up on your blog.

  31. Hi Jeff,

    I use the MyAvatars plugin for WordPress to show people’s avatars. I’m not sure if there’s something similar available for Blogger, but thanks for stopping by.

  32. Well, after finding out that my host had wordpress and how easy it was to set up I decided to switch from blogger to wordpress. I installed the MyAvatar plugin and I think I’ve got things set up… but, I need someone to post a comment to see if their avatar shows up!

    So far I’m liking wordpress much better! And, its on my domain now!

  33. I left a comment on your site, Jeff, and it’s working great.

  34. Building a brand in various forums is very important. In my last business I kept the same avatar for many years. The avatar was specific to me and no one else in my company. It is hard to make people understand how much being consistent matters.

  35. I hadn’t even thought of having an avatar. I had no idea how this influences brand recognition. Thanks or this info.

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