Reluctantly Accepting Myself as a Brand
Learning to recognize the value in what I have to offer
For some people, conceptualizing a personal brand comes relatively easily and creation of that brand makes sense as part of a larger marketing strategy. I am not one of those people. I started off being completely clueless in this area when I started blogging a couple of years ago, but I’ve made progress and learned quite a few lessons along the way.
I am not sales or marketing-oriented by nature. When I was 20 I lasted a whopping two days (one of which was training) at a job that involved trying to rope people into a free dinner in exchange for a hard sell to buy a timeshare. My natural reaction was “ick”, and I didn’t have any further dabbles in anything at all marketing-related since then — until I decided to start a mental health blog.
Even then, it didn’t really occur to me that I was starting a brand that I would want to put out there to the world. I was just looking for a way to express myself and do some therapeutic writing. The blog was about me, not a product or service.
Initially, my focus was on learning the basics of blogging and honing my writing skills to suit that particular type of writing. I chose to take an honest, unfiltered approach that let a lot of my self seep into my writing. I chose this because it was the best fit for the message I wanted to convey about mental health; nothing marketing-related even crossed my mind when I made that decision.
After all, why should I consider myself a brand? I wasn’t selling anything. I certainly wasn’t selling myself. I was just me. Honest, unfiltered me.
Slowly, though, I began to take a bigger picture view. It became increasingly clear that I was an important part of the blog — not just as the creator and writer, but an essential element woven into the blog.
That was when the idea of branding started to make a bit more sense.
First, I created a basic little site logo based on the image that I was already using as a header on my blog. Once I started to gain more knowledge about branding, I developed a revised logo and a colour scheme to pull everything together.
Then it was time to make sure that as much as possible I was giving the same look and feel to readers across the various platforms I’m on. The type of content was already consistent, but I did some tweaking on profiles and graphics.
Since my personal brand has a presence across multiple platforms, I’ve started regularly Googling myself so that I know what people are seeing if they search for me. I’ve gone from having hardly any online presence before I started blogging to now having a lot of brand-consistent search engine hits.
All of this has changed the way I look at personal branding. Sure, it can be very deliberately constructed for a commercial purpose, but it’s also possible for a brand to be a genuine reflection of who you are and how you choose to interact and share your message with the rest of the world.
Now that I’m planning to add a business element to my blog, it feels like a natural extension of what I’ve already built in creating my brand. It’s less of a new project and more a cohesive part of the bigger picture.
A lot of what I’ve read online seems more contrived than I’m willing to entertain for my own brand, but I’ve learned that, like so many other things, you don’t have to go along with what people tell you that you “should” do. I believe that by staying true to myself I’ve created a much stronger, more meaningful brand.
And if there are a few things I didn’t get right, that’s okay.