Does your toddler have a Twitter handle? Maybe a logo or website of their own? The Problem Solvers discover building your child's brand may not be as crazy as it sounds. In fact, their future success may depend on it.
Nowadays, picking your child's name at birth may not be the only thing you need to choose.
Julie Gavin is the mother of 18-month-old Dalton and 2-year-old Darby. She understands the value of having an email address that incorporates your personal name. Her name-based email address is currently unavailable.
"I checked and (my kids') names are still available," says Gavin, "so I snapped (them) up for them."
But it doesn't stop there. Parents are acquiring social media accounts - Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to name a few. They also are buying web domains based on their kids' names. Like a company, they're creating an identity.
"That's really what people trade on," says Kent Lewis, a branding expert and president of Anvil Media in Portland.
"You build your brand, younger and younger," he emphasizes.
In this new online universe, Lewis explains that social media platforms are like circling planets. When a new one is discovered, you should claim it for your child, preferably with a consistent user name. Your child's website is like the sun. He says it's worth paying a couple bucks a year to host.
Why? Well, branding could help your child start a business, get a job or get into a college.
Here's an example of what we're talking about: www.michaeljsingh.com
Michael Singh and his parents started creating his website when he was in eighth grade. The goal is to attract the attention on an Ivy League hockey program, like Harvard or Yale Universities. The website, designed by Anvil Media, includes information about his academics, athletics, leadership skills, and hobbies. It links to all his social media accounts and features a professionally produced video, complete with hockey highlights and interviews with his coaches and teachers. Singh even has his own logo, created by Jeff Pollard, the same Portland-based designer who created Tiger Woods' logo.
"You have to have something that sets you apart from the rest," says Michael Singh, now a senior in high school in Canada. "So really the personal branding can make that difference for you, I feel, because on paper, when two candidates are the same, if you bring that (website) to the table that shows that you're going to that next level.
"You're the guy, the candidate that they might want to come to their school," says Michael Singh, who hopes to play NCAA hockey.
Between printed promotion materials, DVDs, video production, logo and website, the family has spent $25,000 on building Michael Singh's brand.
"The way I look at it, it's an investment in your child," says Sanjay Singh, Michael's father.
"If we're going to go do something, let's go to a gunfight with two bazookas," says Sanjay Singh. "Put your best foot forward."
Michael Singh will know in a few weeks whether he's gotten into his top choice - Harvard.
The Singhs point out that you can market your child for a lot less. You can create your own website or simply post your videos on YouTube. They suggest beginning the process during freshman year of high school.