“Brand yourself, or Google will” is wise advice from branding expert Dan Schawbel. Scumbag Steve is a case study of what happens if you don’t.
For those unfamiliar with him, Scumbag Steve is a meme gone viral. Entire websites have been created to showcase the best memes – customized captions on a photograph. The crazy part is that the guy in the photograph (his real name is Blake Boston) didn’t even know this was going on. His entire “brand” was created by total strangers without his knowledge.

It started simply enough. Blake’s mother was taking a photography class and took a lot of photos of her children including the iconic one of Blake. Only 16 at the time, Blake wanted to be a rapper, and used the photo for an album cover, some marketing materials and on a MySpace page. There it languished until someone copied it and added a caption, picking up the name “Scumbag Steve” along the way.

While Scumbag Steve had a huge presence on the Internet, Blake was virtually invisible. It was only after friends told him that Blake became aware of his alter ego. Eventually, Blake became Scumbag Steve – attempting to channel his notoriety into a music career. So far, he’s been unsuccessful – people seem to like Scumbag Steve a lot more than they like Blake Boston.
Can this happen to you? Sadly, yes.

You should not only create your distinctive brand and make sure your online presence is positive; you should also regularly Google yourself (web and images), and take immediate action if you see anything negative.

Take control of your online presence and position yourself for career success, not as the next Scumbag Steve.

Marilyn is the Assistant Director of Graduate and Alumni Career Services at Bentley University. She brings an uncanny ability quickly discern strengths and differentiators and turn this knowledge into strategic career plans. She is passionate about equipping graduate students and alumni with cutting edge skills. Marilyn has a great deal of corporate experience, primarily in the technology, biotech and healthcare industries. She is a long-time user of social media (she was mentioned in Fast Company’s “Most Influential People Online 2010”). She holds degrees in Psychology and Public Administration from The Florida State University. Marilyn immigrated from Cuba as a child and is bilingual. She is active in Boston’s Hispanic business community.

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