No Money Can Buy Good Name
"Personal branding". It's a term a lot of people feel grossed out by. Branding is a word we associate with marketing, and marketing we associate with selling, so personal branding feels like selling yourself.
Except that marketing isn't always about selling. Marketing is about communication: it's storytelling, and we're all storytellers. The story we choose to tell determines whether it's something to be proud of or feel icky about.
Up until fairly recently, the way we presented ourselves to the world was defined by how we spoke, dressed, wore our hair, drove, the music we listened to, where we lived, our occupations, interests and the people around us.
Now, of course, our digital presence has become a big part of how we communicate with the rest of the world.
I have just one friend under the age of 40 who's not using any form of social media. It has become so ubiquitous that not using it communicates something about yourself to the world. Opting out does not make you invisible, you may be conspicuous in your absence.
Those of us who do choose to use social media are rarely encouraged to think about the big picture. Who do we want to be? What are we trying to say or to achieve? How do we want other people to feel after interacting with us?
"Your personal brand is what other people other people say about you when you're not in the room". - Jeff Bezos.
I disagree, but there is some truth in it. What people say about Jeff when he's not in the room is probably that he started Amazon, he's a billionaire, and he treats his workers despicably.
Your brand is your values and how you live them.
The negative energy you put in to the world is just as visible, if not more so, as the positive. I'd like to think that if you're reading this you're probably a creative person who wants to put inspiring things into the world.
One of my favourite people-I've-never-met is Jonathan Van Ness of TV show Queer Eye and the Getting Curious podcast. Jonathan often says "negativity is just not my brand", which is an intentional choice. I imagine people describe Jonathan as positive, enthusiastic, kind, curious and always doing the most.
Does the way you communicate reflect your creativity and values?
If I look at your Instagram feed am I going to see lots of interesting, imaginative images or am I going to see a grainy photo of your lunch and 3000 selfies in the same pose? If I head over to Twitter am I going to get an idea of what's happening in your creative life and community, or a barrage of angry rants into the void about the state of the world?
There is no right or wrong, it's just important to be thoughtful and intentional. If you don't have the skillset to represent your ideas the way you'd like to, there are thousands of free tools and tutorials online that will help you.
Some people are selling themselves, a lifestyle, their art or a product, and others have nothing to sell but they have something to say or a story to tell. Either way, the goal is to send more of what you care about or believe is important in to the world. You may want to let go of anything that gets in the way of that.
So what do you value and want to send out in to the world? Can you sum up your values? Share them with us in the comments below...