I thought brands were for things like Walmart or Gucci or Apple or General Mills. As it applies to individuals, well I guess the Kardashians too. People with money have brands.
But little me? A blip in the Universe?
I have a brand?
This is Marketing 101. The concept of personal branding was completely new to me until recently. I know nothing about Marketing or business. My background is, well, unusual.
I received my degree in Earth Sciences. So, I know about rocks and climate. I could explain in detail why corals are dying and why that’s really really bad.
By that I mean: personal branding is a foreign subject to me. It has only just begun to make sense, and now I can’t help but wonder: what’s my brand?
It must be a knock-off or a generic version at this point. Nothing really valuable, yet. Not fully trusted. I’m not an authority in anything.
In my life, I haven’t leveraged my image, values, or story very much. As a result, to the world, I don’t have a lot to offer.
People who are trusted authorities in their field have brands that are iron clad. People like Gary Vaynerchuk, the trusted authority and thought leader for entrepreneurs. His brand is so powerful that his name was the first I thought of when I sought an example of successful entrepreneurs.
I am not that, nor do I necessarily aspire to be that, but I have my own story.
In reality, everyone has a brand.
It’s that feeling people have about you. Maya Angelou said this about people:
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
That’s your brand for better or for worse, but another thing to take away is that the ability to shape your brand is in your hands. If you don’t take that initiative, your brand will be decided by the people around you, and it might not be what you want.
That’s still empowering. You can decide how you want to be seen and remembered.
So, who am I to the world?
It’s a good question to ask, and it’s something I’m delving into more. That will be a special day when I can confidently say, “This is who I am. This is what I do.” That’s a strong personal brand.
Right here on Medium, I have a brand, and I’ll get into that now.
Let’s look at my profile. Honestly, I didn’t put very much thought into it when I joined a few weeks ago. I just threw out a few random facts under my name. Maybe a closer examination will show something more.
My profile says
“Writer for 5 Publications”. That leaves some kind of impression. Like, hey, Lane’s doing something if she can write for 5 publications. Right?
“Dog obsessed” — Well, I have a dog and I’m obsessed with her. (One of these days, I’ll tell you just how much!) So, that obsession goes without saying and it tells people that I have a heart — Just kidding. If you love cats, that’s perfectly fine, but don’t tell anyone.
“Expert self-critic” So, maybe I put myself down sometimes. I’m hard on myself. And there’s an undercurrent of “I don’t think too highly of myself”, which could be good or bad.
“On the journey of living” I would say this indicates that I don’t take myself too seriously. Maybe I have a sense of humor, or I like adventures, I’m laid-back. Not worried about the destination, and stays in the moment. Very millennial.
“Loves chocolate” I’m not afraid to indulge a little and treat myself decently. No self-hating diets for this one!
So, that’s the first impression if you read between the lines. That’s the brand, the feeling people are left with. Everything else, if done right, should support those statements and their implications.
Whether they do or not depends on what I write about and how consistent I am. I’m pretty sure I haven’t written about chocolate…
Right now, I really don’t know what I want my brand to be. Ultimately, I just want to write things that are relatable and which bring people together.
Anyway, the whole reason I brought this up is because I was listening to TEDTalks last night about branding and I learned a lot! While it all makes sense, this is the first time I’ve considered it as it applies to me and how I’m perceived in the world.
Maybe I’m late to the party with that one, fashionably late of course.
When I was younger, fine tuning my image was never a priority. I was never popular, and didn’t really care about what people thought about me.
For the most part, that’s still true, but that doesn’t mean I can’t put my best foot forward.
So, now I have to decide which foot. Left or right?
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Have you thought about your brand?