In March 2012, I read about a new startup called BrandYourself and signed up. Inspired by one of its founder’s negative search engine results — he was being confused with a drug dealer — BrandYourself is nonetheless about much more than deleting bad search results. The company is one of several new startups that enable regular people to optimize their online activities and/or make their lives easier. I am so impressed with BrandYourself that I talked with CBS Interactive about it.
There are plenty of so-called reputation management plays out there, well-funded, in fact, but BrandYourself represents a super-important shift in technology — what I see as the next generation of startups. It is one of a bunch of companies that were born where their customers live, and they enable customers to manage and optimize their content — giving them a bit of control they did not have. In BrandYourself’s case, you tell them what you want turning up in a search, so the Internet is not just happening to you.
Another new generation startup, Citrus Lane [my client], packages and delivers products for babies and their parents monthly, saving them time and money. This is great, but Citrus Lane also invites customers into a community of parents who share their experiences and wisdom. The so-called mommy bloggers are running with it, taking to their sites and YouTube to talk about their experiences with the brands that Citrus Lane packs — and talking about how Citrus Lane covers all their bases: monthly surprises, good things for their babies, product research.
Wix.com [I use it for my consulting practice], makes it possible for anyone to create a beautiful, compelling, differentiated website for a small business. Their designers and programmers work on the art and the underlying engine, giving you templates to follow that extract the content that makes for a good story. At the same time, you have a creative outlet that gives the world a picture of the real you. This is essential to strong marketing [something I always tell my clients].
These startups use technology to pull ideas from you to shape your presence and your circles online. And while BrandYourself and companies like it do have the luxury of following the quirky programming geniuses who perfected web platforms, they are very wisely taking those innovations a step further, not copying them. They are addressing what regular people need, now that we have Facebook, LinkedIn, et al, and providing services on top of those platforms that meet real expectations.