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.