Owning your own domain is one of the bedrocks of building a strong personal brand and securing your online reputation. Leading the space to help people build their brands and owning their digital playground is Domain.Me, a domain registrar company based in Montenegro, who’s country URL happens to be “.me”.

Their CEO, Predag Lesic, was kind enough to allow me ask him some questions about personal branding and his company.

1. You hear a lot of criticism these days about “the selfish ME generation”. The stereotypes abound, they only do things for their own gain, they are more interested in their image than impact etc. Of course I’ve not found these negative qualities in the young people I know. Regardless, I can see the proverbial eyes rolling were I to get a .me domain. How are you battling negative impressions and turning Domain.me into a successful and highly relevant venture? What do you say to critics who look down on .me domains as self-centered?

Almost every generation speaks bad about the younger generation. The famous sentence is the same all around the world, in the US, India, China, Japan or Montenegro: “Kids these days…” It’s easy to explain all the problems by stereotyping a group of people and especially a generation. According to that, ME generation is made of lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents, as said on the cover story of the Times magazine of May 2013 called “The ME ME ME Generation”.

It also adds: Why they’ll save us all. What’s of more impact today than in any other time of history is, that the world is more connected and all the countries of the developed world feel the ME in the ME generation. Just think about the selfies and the story about the medical disorder which is, by the way, a hoax. But remember – That’s why they’ll save us all!

The word ME itself shouldn’t always have a negative connotation. We as individuals first have to respect ourselves as people, if we want to be able to support people we care about. Our closest brand ambassadors are parents who understand the ME generation, but also understand the importance of taking care of yourself, just as the instructions in the planes advise to put the mask yourself first and then assist the children. Being parents ourselves, we address people who are so busy that they have no time for themselves, and instead dedicate all of their free time to their families. We, the parents are actually the biggest, most positive and important change that will bring the change to the world before our children are able to do that by themselves. So we are not focused only on the ME generation but on their parents too.

Also, when you put the ME in your business name you are actually focusing on your customers and you are building a community. This is what we truly believe in. How often do you see an item in the store that says Try Me, or just think about Build-a-bear store that is all covered by LoveMe, NameMe, DressMe signs. We have seen so many great examples of businesses using ME in their name and .me domains as well, that they are actually doing the best promotion for us. Think about About.Me, ID.Me, Return.Me, Secure.Me, Join.Me, Super.Me, Branded.Me… All these businesses easily explain what they are doing for their customers using a very short domain and a business name. This is what built a domain.me as a company into a successful and highly relevant venture.

2. In your own words, how would you define personal branding? How have you developed your own personal brand and how has it helped in your success?

I don’t see personal branding so different in offline and online world. I think that you cannot hide behind a screen and be online something you are not offline. So personal branding for me is just presenting yourself online and offline the way you are, with all your beliefs and values, but also all your faults. I think sometimes people connect to you as a brand and as a person more through your faults than through your virtues. I am maybe speaking from the perspective of a manager of a successful company so it’s easier for me, but think about young people, the more honest they are to themselves and the easier they share that and actually work on themselves the better their personal brand is. Online and offline.

My own personal brand is just me and presenting myself as I am, with my interests, my knowledge, my days off, my bad humor, even my bad photos on social media (where I look worse than I imagine), and I think it helped by showing me as a human being, who knows some things,  who has sometimes wrong beliefs, who doesn’t know some stuff, but who wants to learn.

3. What are 3 things people should always do when building their brand? What are 3 things they should always avoid?

If you want to build your own personal brand there are so many important things but the first 3 I would say are:

  • know yourself inside/outside
  • be honest to yourself
  • don’t be afraid to show it to the world. You are just one normal human being.

Avoid:

  • lying
  • stealing other people’s content (or anything)
  • and basically avoid everything your mom taught you to avoid 🙂

4. What’s next for Domain.me?

2014 was a big change for every company in our industry with all new domains launched and most of the “old” domains experienced decrease in size. We grew almost 7% which is three times more than any other domain extension.

We plan to continue to grow but the most important thing for us is not the number of registered domains, but the number of websites built on .me and the end customers who recognize the importance of having a memorable presence online. We have a strong relationship with successful stories around .me and we help them in any way we can. We believe that our customers are actually the best promotion for us and that’s for sure the most important thing for us.

Thanks Pedrag, you’ve inspired me to go out and get joshuawaldman.me, I feel much less conflicted about it now 🙂 Best of luck to you. 
Haha, that’s great. You’re very welcome.