One of my favorite quotes of all time is this:
Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I read that in grade school and it’s helped me through many a confusing time. The sentiment, so simple yet so profound, is the reason why writers write, painters paint, explorers explore – you get the gist
It’s the figuring out what my heart vibrates to, who I am once it does, and getting to the where of it that’s the hard part. It’s a lifelong thing, isn’t it?
Here’s another quote along those same lines:
Your only obligation in any lifetime is be true to yourself. – Richard Bach
Just be you, people say. Without pretense or expectation, settle down and settle into the mystery of being you.
I ask you:
Have you figured that out yet? I’m just beginning to and it’s taken me decades to do it. Like my novel, I’m a work in progress and also like it, I’m wondering if I’ll ever get there.
Now I’m just sounding whiny and narcissistic. Hang in there, there’s a point.
What? Who? When? Where?
If you think about it, being YOU, is kind of like branding. When I’ve written for others, whether it be a bio or web content, one of the most difficult tasks is determining who someone (or some company) is.
A brand is a kind of promise to a customer. The customer expects, once a brand is established, that it continues to be what it is, authenticity is paramount. It, you, product, place or thing must ring true or no one’s going to buy it (literally and metaphorically) because when something or someone is true, authentic, you feel it.
The Formula For Being You
Let’s say we apply a branding formula to being ourselves.
I’ll tell you mine if you’ll tell me yours.
Press play and don’t hate me. If it gets stuck in your head, then it succeeded.
Basics of Branding (or the Figuring out of Finding and Being YOU)
When I write clients’ bios, I usually develop a questionnaire for them. The questions are normally geared toward their particular profession. Besides those work-related questions, I’ll ask them to tout their accolades – any and all – and what motivates them or inspires them. I’ll ask them if they have a mantra or something they say to themselves to propel them forward. Some will give short, pat answers. Some won’t answer those “personal” questions. Others will expound and go into great detail. It’s the reading between the lines where I find their essence, if that makes sense.
Once I have this information in front of me, I write their bio. It’s way more difficult to do this for yourself. I pulled out one of those questionnaires and I answered some of those questions that I’ve asked others.
If I had to define my own brand, I wondered, how would it turn out? I asked myself the following questions.
- If I had a logo, what would it be?
A logo is a signature something, a representation. A character in my NIP (novel in progress) wears purple a lot. That’s her signature, her logo, others recognize that’s part of who she is.
I’m a jeans-wearer (my favorite is Lucky Brand), a writer, and a no-frills kind of person. Blues, grays and the color of the seashore are my favorite colors. I feel at peace if this palette surrounds me. I don’t wear much jewelry. I go all out for the people and things I love or believe in.
I’ve led a lucky life. Most of the time, things have worked out pretty well for me. I’m not a go-with-the-flow kind of person but I believe that others think I am. That perception is most likely from the aforementioned simplicity and the fact that I listen way more than I speak. Maybe my logo would look something like this:
- What do I want people to know about me, my brand, my message? Write this down and read it every day.
A detailed-oriented writer, wordsmith, and woman who possesses a creative spirit and analytical mind. Creative endeavors make my heart sing. And, I’m a nice person who believes one of the most important traits about a person is their character, their integrity.
- Integrate that message into the way I present myself.
If I answered the phone, I’d answer it with my name, since I am what I’m trying to promote. How about this?
“Brigitte S. Would you like to get lucky today?”
I should probably rethink that. Note to self: Work on your branding message.
- Establish your “voice.”
As most of us who write know, we gravitate toward reading works that resonate with us. It’s the “voice” that we love or don’t love. It’s why we pick this author over that one. I prefer an informal, slightly self-deprecating, conversational “voice” with humor. What’s your voice?
- Develop a tagline
This isn’t as easy as it sounds and marketing companies spend weeks or more trying to get this right. I’m not doing that for purposes of this post, so here’s mine, on the fly, off the cuff, you get what I’m throwing down.
Writing with thought is as important as writing well.
Obviously, I’d have to hone this, but it’s a starting point as to how I feel about every project I approach. It’s the seed that could turn into something better.
- Be true to yourself.
Well look at that. We’re back to what Ralph Waldo Emerson said 174 years ago. Be true to who you are, be proud of it, and wear it like a badge of honor.
- Be consistent
No explanation needed. When you skillfully apply all of the above, then consistency is a snap, right?
It is What It Is. And So Are You
Each and every one of us has something unique within us that can add value to our community or world. It’s difficult finding that place where we can fully embrace who we are and marry it with making a difference.
But, I think it’s worth the effort. No matter how long it takes. The getting there is maybe the best part if we just let it be.
Who are you? Can you answer the above questions? What’s your brand? What would your logo look like? Go all out and let me know, no matter how far-fetched or crazy it may sound.
Enjoy the rest of The Who song, Happy Monday everyone, and BE YOU.
“It’s a lifelong thing, isn’t it?”—Oh yes, that it is. If we’re lucky, we discover it before we leave this earth.
Fascinating to read about the process behind branding. I’ve never thought about it in detail like this before. I can tell you’re very good at it, and I can understand why people hire you to do theirs. And I agree–authenticity is key. We are our brand, and if we don’t deliver the true version of ourselves, we’re apt to disappoint later.
Isn’t that the truth Carrie? The figuring out part is the most difficult! It’s funny though, as we blog, we develop a kind of brand, don’t we? I think of you one way, another blogger friend another. The “voice” comes through the writing. Your voice is strong and funny and I have a feeling you’re going to be doing lots of this kind of thing in the future, you talented writer, you. Thanks, Carrie. Always a pleasure — your stopping by.
Thank you, Brigitte. You always have warm fuzzies to offer us. In fact, that’s part of your brand: generosity and kindness. 🙂
Well, thank you, Carrie. That’s about the best brand I can think of. ;).
That Who song is perfect for your post! The age old question, who are you? You ask some really good questions. Branding is always something I struggle with. Yikes! You mean I have to stand for something, I can’t just write. I will attempt to answer these, Brigitte. I’m going to try. Great post.
Why thank you, Amy. You know every time I hear it now, I also think of CSI since the guy that created that show is a huge Who fan. Branding? I struggle with it as well because things and people are ever-changing and evolving. It’s exhausting! I’d love to hear your answers, though. Gotta work on my personal logo and that message thing, though. I think if we had a team we could really get somewhere. Great to see you, Amy and thank you.
A team approach could be really helpful, Brigitte. I’ll let you know what I come up with. 🙂 The way I feel about brand is if you don’t tell people who you are, they will come up with something on their own! So, maybe it’s better to give them the answers.
I’ll have my people call your people, Amy. Ha!! (I don’t have people). And I agree with you. Can’t leave much to chance, can we? I think you have a lovely brand, btw. 🙂
Ok, sounds perfect! Why, thank you. You’re so kind. 🙂
Branding was one of those foreign, spammy-ad concepts that I detested for no good reason until I entered the workforce. And then I realized that no matter who you are or what field you work in, branding is everywhere. And as you’ve explained so wonderfully here, anyone who is creative essentially has their own brand, whether they perceive it as such or not. I tend to blur brand with style, which I kind of see as going hand in hand. You mentioned voice, which I completely agree is something that is very personal and subjective in terms of what we gravitate towards. It’s the reason why we interact with certain people here and by extension, why we might prefer certain commercial brands over others. As far as what my personal brand looks like, it’s definitely still a WIP but no matter what I always try to stay true to the essence of who I am and what feels right for me.
I know what you mean, Lillian. I used to think of it that way as well but it is the reason why we buy what we buy (literally and emotionally). I bet you can list some of your favorite commercials that have made you laugh, smile, cringe, or cry and that’s not by accident. And you’re right, it is everywhere. And yes, I do believe style and branding go hand in hand. I recognize your unique voice and gravitated to it after reading one of your posts. I think of you in a certain way—your brand is intelligence, lovely, hip, soulful, bright, and introspective. There’s many other facets/traits that describe you, but those are the ones that come immediately to mind. And I never “met” you in the traditional sense. Whether we mean to or not, our own unique brands are established as we write these posts and send them out to the world. Yours is very nice and it’s always nice seeing you here. Thank you, Lillian.
What a great post you served up for us. So happy to see you in my reader today,Ms B. I agree with Carrie, you can tell you’re very good at what you do AND I can’t wait to read your novel.
I’m not sure I could answer these questions. It’s a good challenge though. I might print this out and give it a go. ( my head hurts already) spectacular Monday to you, my friend 🙂
You are so wonderful—thank you for that and always for your encouragement. Your brand is brilliant, snazzy, saucy, and smart. And might I add, poetic savant? Yes, I will. Love to see you describe a logo—umm, now what might that be? Would love to see you in my reader, you know? Wha happened???
Thank you and the key to answering those questions is not thinking too much about it. Let if flow, chickie. Just let it be….thank you, Audra. You are one in a billion.
As usual, Brig, another thought provoking post. First and foremost, Lame Adventures is my brand, whether I write anything or not. (And lately it’s been a lot of not because I’ve got so much going on these days and little time to write.) Essentially, every day of my life I live a Lame Adventure, often accompanied by my bud, Milton. For example, as I was trying to write this comment, every time I tried to write the letter m in “Lame” I seemed to activate some odd computer code that started the “Who are You” song. (MIlton’s not here, but I’m sure he’d get a kick out of that.) My brand follows me everywhere I go. As for my logo, it’s me doing something lame. As for what I want people to know about me, it’s the illusion of WYSIWYG with a dash of DDT. Surely, you wouldn’t expect me to write something as pedestrian as “with a dash of LOL”? Not gonna happen.
Well, thank you, V. Glad you enjoyed and it provoked some thoughts. Busy is good and we all recognize your brand immediately. Funny and smart as always, though the thing about typing a letter m in Lame that activated a computer code, well I’m stumped. But I think that’s your humor again. Your brand does follow you and it’s a very great and recognizable one. What you see is what you get is what most of us want to present, I think.
My dash of something, I’m not sure, but when I figure out an cool acronym perhaps I should stick it in a logo (or stick it somewhere)—whatta ya think?
For the record, as pedestrian as laughing out loud is, I have found myself doing just that when reading your posts at times. And DDT is dangerous. Thanks, V—always wonderful when you drop in, bud.
Awwwwww, thanks Brig! I think of your trademark as Brigitte’s Banter. You just need to think of an image to illustrate it. Maybe Southern flower child meets savvy wordsmith.
Thank you, V! I like that image. I’ll have to work on that in GIMP (the free version of Photoshop).
Hello there, Brigitte! So good to read your fabulous writing today. It’s so interesting that you would write about this because it’s been on my mind of late. I’m currently reading “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer and the basic theme, at least what I’m gleaning from it is: “Who am I?” I’m loving it, so far. I
I’ve also had an interesting summer at a few art shows selling my photographs. This past Saturday, I attended a small local show and the response was almost overwhelming! From people’s comments, I was able to get a very clear idea of what my photographic style really is and where it came from. Fascinating. One would think that I should have known that all along!
Good morning Cathy and so fabulous to see you here! And thank you for the book recommendation. It sounds right up my alley and I’m putting it on my list today.
It doesn’t surprise me in the least that your exhibits are so successful. I remember leaving a comment on one of your posts about your needing to sell your beautiful photographs after one I saw really moved me. That’s what creative endeavors should do and you’re very good at doing just that.
It is fascinating when others can see our essence, I guess that’s it, better than we ourselves can sometimes. But yours show through your gorgeous photography and it’s a lovely one indeed! Thank you Cathy.
I haven’t given much thought to branding, but it’s important for almost everyone. We tend to think of it as necessary only for products, but in many cases, we ARE the product.
Hi Smak, great to see you. Maybe I give thought to it because of how I’ve had to apply it at times to other people. Each of us on this platform has a “brand” if you think about it. A brand is our own uniqueness and I think of certain traits when I read you and I’m sure you do the same as you read my posts (maybe, I hope!). And you’re right, our words and what we put out there, well that’s a perfect way of summing it up. We ARE the product. Thanks for your insight, as always!
I think I’ve asked myself that question about myself more times than I can remember! And after “several” decades, I’m not sure I’ve found the answer. 😉 Those are great questions to ask ourselves, especially if we have creative goals that include sharing our work with the public. As for being able to answer them, well, maybe when the books are ready for prime time!
I know what you mean and some things change from decade to decade! Maybe we should all get together and devise a “what color is your parachute” (remember that?) set of questions. Really all of them, including “branding” is a means of trying to figure out what something or who someone is and presenting it/her/him in the best light. By the time I figure it out, I’ll most likely have a new set of directives! Thanks JM.
You bring up some really good points to consider about branding – mantras, logos, voice, etc.. I’ve been revamping my blog a little, and after over four years of writing it I’m still trying to answer many of those questions. One thing is for sure, I wholeheartedly agree about being true to yourself. If only I could communicate that better!
Hi Britta, why thank you and how GREAT to see you again all the way from Britta’s Banter. The thing about “brands” especially our own personal ones is they are ever-evolving, aren’t they? And, I think being true to yourself takes time, patience, and a lot of letting go of fear of judgement about what others might think. Thanks so much for stopping by, you’re comments are so appreciated!