I’ve always found branding a large crock of marketing BS. I respect that it works, I respect that it’s necessary, but boiling down an entity into a catchy tagline just seems so… well… unappealing.
What brings on thoughts of branding? Embarrassingly enough – jealousy. I hate it when I’m jealous. I’d rather be sick. I’d rather be angry. I’d rather laugh so hard I pee (it starts out good and ends badly, which in my book ruins things real fast). I hate jealousy because not only I”m I inadequate – but I’m also petty. Con-gra-tu-la-tions Carly, you are a four year-old.
Who am I jealous of? The Burton girls. Burton released a for-females website this year and I have a love to hate it relationship with the new addition. I love it, because I love snowboarding. And I love Burton for being mainstream with prices I can afford, and yet still somehow holding onto a cool-factor which is usually lost with any measure of success. I find the need for a blog specifically for girls a tad demeaning – I mean really, are the snowboarding guys belching so loudly, farting to smell-ily, and telling such foul jokes we can’t even handle their blog? And yet, I want to read the article about an at-home skin care scrub, which I will absolutely never do because I get tired and grumpy of my beauty routine sometime around stepping into the shower.
I love snowboarding but will never be anything special – and I’m okay with that. However, when I see that you can become a Burton Girl by being whimsical enough to add rose petals to some salt and rub it on my old lady elbows, oh wound to the heart. (As a side, the author of this piece is absolutely amazing, I’m perfectly aware of this, I’m just making a point about jealousy and terrible pathetic it makes me). The thing that these girls have – besides utter awesomeness, hearts-of-gold (I imagine based on the black and white photos), and succulent hair (yeah, succulent, all of them), is a brand. They are their brand, every day. Do you have a hard core blogging friend? The one who stands in line at Whole Foods and grabs a tin of organic black pepper encrusted dark chocolate twigs and says “Oh, I should blog about this.” She has a brand. She’s a little crazy, and yet, hundreds of people love her and will be pepper encrusting candy canes for the holidays.
Whenever it comes to personal brand brainstorming, the marketing education in me perks up and suddenly I feel like I’m a commodity. And yet, a good brand can get you so far these days.
In a Mashable post about personal branding, the social media site points out the first step to a real brand is making this equation true:
the way you perceive yourself = the way other perceive you
This is the ultimate advice in my eyes. If you want to be a photographer, never leave the house without your camera. If you want to be a snowboarder, wear the damn slouchy beanie in summer time. If you want to be a writer – I don’t know, creepily eavesdrop on every conversation and take notes on people in public. Just kidding – is being a writer is about sitting at ones desk and forcing oneself to not stand up until 2,000 words are written – where’s the brand in that? Brand dull I’d say. Can you writers out there imagine twitpicing a photo yourself in the element? No makeup, hair limp, wearing the same sweatpants you’ve worn for the last five days – the house un-vacuumed, the dinner served cold from a can? It’s hardly pinning material. And yet, just like snowboarders, just like social media gurus (that word actually makes me gag) – writers are meant to have personal brands. But rather than building it like fiction, why not think about how the world perceives you, how you want that altered a bit, and what props and personality alterations are required to get there. And, start paying attention to how your favorite authors brand themselves. Here are two of mine – totally different, both successful.
John Greene – He’s everyone’s buddy. He’s a family man. He’s your fun brother. Follow John Green on Twitter - you’ll like it.
Jess Walter – He’s elusive, mysterious, and only appears to do events which benefit charity. Stand-up guy. Lives in Eastern WA by choice I imagine. But wait – there’s more – he’s funny! Follow Jess Walter on Twitter - that’s where the funny comes out.