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By Irina Soriano, VP and Head of Enablement at Seismic

When you were younger and beginning to build your online presence, did you ever ask yourself how your digital fingerprint might impact your future?

In years gone by, we’ve become much more aware of how our online activity can affect our personal and professional lives. Virtually everyone is now digitally active with smartphone usage increasing, putting our digital futures easily at our fingertips. Social media has also allowed us to create our own personal digital content libraries. Every photo, video, audio recording, and even those old film pictures from 20 or 30 years ago, can still see the light of day.

But can you remember every single piece of content that is potentially tied back to you? Even just from a simple ‘like’?

While we might not be able to recall every action or piece of content we’ve posted or interacted with online, it can all have a major impact on the current and future state of our lives. The views and beliefs that we share online can unintentionally bring damaging repercussions, even with our so-called “private” accounts. That’s why, without being too drastic, we need to control our digital content library – or life-brand – so it can help us establish, drive and be successful in the professional corridor of our lives.

Understanding your life-brand

Adults in the UK spend around three and a half hours online every day on average. Therefore, there’s plenty of opportunity for us to make an error in judgement that may cost our reputation later in life.

The truth is that social media isn’t as private as we would like to believe. Our actions might be stored in the cloud or screenshotted on someone’s phone to be unearthed another day. Every piece of content we share digitally becomes a part of who we are and what we are known for – this is our one and only life-brand.

Your life-brand must not be confused for ‘personal branding’. A personal brand is cultivated through an intentional effort to form our public perception, whereas your life-brand expands this concept to also consider any public display of our (un)intentional language and behaviour. Ultimately, your life-brand will continue to develop whether you want it to or not. It can take control of itself if you are not aware of it, and it can gain power and strength over the course of our lifetime.

A life-brand consists of two major components: your identity and your chosen life purpose. Your identity is defined by how you behave and the language you use on social media or in a public setting, while your purpose is created by your passion, ideas and expertise in a certain field. Closely managing the combination of and connection between the two is essential to controlling your life-brand so it doesn’t open the floodgates and tarnish your education and career. This ensures that the life-brand doesn’t control you but rather, you control it.

To promote your life-brand’s integrity, these two components need to shine through into other areas of your life. Sharing your purpose with the world through social media channels is an intentional act, a controlled effort you undertake. But thanks to the wide reach of social media, it can have a genuine and positive impact on your life and others, going beyond the online realm.

Taking control of your digital life

The next generation will have a much tougher task in controlling their life-brand, which will have likely started from a very early age. To safeguard against potential social media mishaps in the future, the first critical step is simply to acknowledge the existence of our own individual life-brand so it can be managed effectively. The sooner we reach such awareness, the greater chance we have in carrying out the appropriate action to control our life-brand before it’s too late.

When we’re in control, proactively building integrity in our identity and purpose helps to establish our own unique life-brand voice and, in turn, advance our professional lives. But it’s also important to remember that the voice of our life-brand can directly influence and inspire other people and entire communities to make a positive impact on society as a whole. By maintaining integrity and sincerity when communicating your purpose online, your life-brand can encourage others to also do great things both online and offline that improve the world.

In summary, your life-brand thrives when you’re in control of your chosen purpose and public perception. In doing so, it becomes a powerful vehicle in impacting, reaching and influencing others.

Understanding the concept of a life-brand and the ability to control and nurture integrity between your purpose and identity will allow you to establish a life-brand that is not only unique, but a life-brand that makes its mark on wider society in a positive way. The earlier this is determined, the greater the possibilities to actively control it and lead by example.

About the author

Irina is a TEDx speaker and the author of Generation Brand, a modern playbook for cultivating our life-brand. She currently serves as Vice President at Seismic, the leading sales enablement and marketing orchestration company.

She has held senior positions across EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and the US. This experience has exposed her to working with and mentoring an extremely diverse group of men and women across multiple industries in different parts of the world. Irina has built a strong life-brand around her passion for making a significant contribution to closing the gender gap by enabling the next generation of girls and young women to drive a cultural paradigm shift toward gender equality in business and beyond.