Carving out an online identity

Have you ever thought about how important an online 'brand' is, even when you're a person, rather than a brand? It's something that sprung to mind recently, when I was looking through my Twitter followers. Some of them have great, very easy-to-recognise icons - and others, not so much.

Colin is a great example of someone who is doing it right; He has this icon on a lot of his digital life:


Between the blue sky, the red hair, and the welding goggles, it is instantly recognisable, no matter what size the photo is shown. That, and it's a bloody awesome photo to begin with, which is a huge bonus.

Myself, I've been using another photo for quite a while:


But, despite being quite recognisable as me, I never really liked it all that much. Having said that, I never really found a better photo to replace it with, so it's been my online identity for, oh, the best part of two years now. It doesn't help that it's part of a mugshot taken for our The Girl is Mime project, of course:


So, when I was futzing with some stuff at my desk this evening, I was idly staring into nothingness, as the sun was going down. A beautiful golden light struck the wall, and because of some trees outside, it created an awesome pattern, too. I reached for the first camera I could find - my iPhone 4 - stuck my head into the photo, and snapped.

One photo, that was all I had time for; the sun only illuminated my wall for a minute or so... But that was also all I wanted. The original shot may not have been anything to write home about:


... But it definitely had some potential. I loaded it into Snapseed; my favourite iPhone photo editing tool, and played with it for a bit...


... Much better. But there was something raw, something dirty in there; the digital noise from the iPhone's sensor, combined with the play of light and dark; That had to be amplified a little, so I added some grunge filters to make it stand out even further...


... And that's what I decided would be my new online identity for the foreseeable future: It has everything I need from one: It reflects photography, it's creative, and it is (sort of) recogniseable as me. It works at all sizes from the tiniest icon (as seen on Twitter and Flickr), via medium sizes (Google Plus) and in larger sizes, too - like the banner across my user page here on Pixiq.

And, because I'm using the same photo everywhere (more or less...) it's instantly recognisable to anyone who's visited any of my other online presences. Spiffing.