You Are Not A Brand

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark

You are not a brand. You may be the face of your brand, and it may even bear your name, but the fact of the matter is that you yourself are not a brand. You are a multi-faceted human being and, in the words of Walt Whitman, you "contain multitudes."

You can build a brand that reflects your values and is infused with your personality and worldview, without allowing it to dictate how you behave, limit what you say, or define how you look at every second of every day. Being authentic doesn’t mean laying all your cards face up on the table. It also doesn’t require you throw “pearls to swine” and allow anyone and everyone access to every part of your life. Plus, if you want to scale or build a brand that will exist long after you’re gone, it will need to represent something bigger than yourself.

You can create multiple brands – completely separate from one another – with different target markets, different business strategies, different visual identities, different product categories, and set up specific branding for each of them that may not reflect your personality at all. There are zillions of companies like this that are very successful.

Others don’t get to define you, you get to define yourself. People may label you or assign motives, but at the end of the day, your actions and thoughts are your responsibility. This is why you are not a brand, no matter how popular or mainstream the term “personal branding” continues to be.

Brands can be shaped by us, but are ultimately defined by others. We, as humans, can be shaped by others, but ultimately we are defined by ourselves.

The original version of this post was published January 2014

The Truth About Storytelling As Marketing

A client doesn't hire you just because they heard your story.

A client hires you because they believe your story will help make their own story better in some way.

Stories drive marketing and stories are what sell, but make no mistake: when it comes to these things your story is never really about you.

If you want your storytelling to succeed, try a little less me, a lot more here's how your life can be easier/simpler/better/more joyous/more memorable/more meaningful.

Originally published July 2011

How You May Be Proactively Self-Sabotaging Your Brand

Perspective is deeply personal. Mine is different than yours and both of ours are different from the person's sitting at the next table. All of our experiences, all of what we've read, all of what we listen to and watch, all of our travels and conversations filter into unique perspectives that no one else shares.

And while no one else can share our exact perspectives on the world, others can relate to them in some way, draw inspiration from them, see a reflection of themselves in them. The people that relate to our perspectives are the people we want as clients. The ones who "get" us and "get" the work that we do.

People can't hire you for your perspective if you aren't first showing them what your perspective is. If you're constantly quoting other blogs, magazines, Instagram "influencers", industry peers or leaders, and never offering your original take, then you are only lumping yourself in with everyone else. This is proactive self-sabotage.

To get the clients you really want, the ones who really "get" you, you first have to be willing to embrace the fact that some people won't relate to your perspective at all, that some people will never "get" you.

Next, you have to share more of your perspective than you parrot someone else's.

Originally published February 2012