Today, I had an interesting lunch with a branding specialist who introduced me to the concept of “self branding”.
My new friend the branding specialist suggested that branding is much, much more than marketing, larger than presentation, it involves everything you do and how you do it – that has to do with goals and purpose as well. She stressed the importance of adapting your own brand communication to your environment. Branding yourself in Ghana, maybe even in certain circles of Accra, is different from doing it in South Africa or Sweden. I was intrigued and to understand this idea of self branding better, I did some research and this is what I found…
Lea Ancantara is someone who has made a career out of what she calls “The Art of Self Branding” and her website which has all kinds of resources (PowerPoints, lectures on sound files, book tips, articles etc). It all starts with a mini summary of her understanding of the concept:
Who are you? Who cares?
In a longer article, Lea Ancantara further suggests you should do some research into how you are perceived, who your “market” consists of (in blogging we call them “readers”), but also think about where you came from, what your “story” is and to try to be consistent. In the end, Lea returns to the initial question, adding a few more which should be answered quickly by your branding effort:
Who am I? What am I? Where am I? Who are you? How’d I get here?
The always interesting Fast Company suggests in an article on Self Branding by Tom Peters that the web with its personal websites is a part of it:
how do you know which sites are worth visiting, which sites to bookmark, which sites are worth going to more than once? The answer: branding. The sites you go back to are the sites you trust. They’re the sites where the brand name tells you that the visit will be worth your time — again and again. The brand is a promise of the value you’ll receive.
And here I started to get really interested, how do I create a blog brand that makes people come back? And how is that branding?
Here are my thoughts…and I have tried without knowing it was called self-branding. For instance, I was thinking long and hard about what picture to use in my heading, what colors, what slogan to use (“Lecturer, Freelance Writer and Blogger in Ghana” is the current version), to be consistent in tone and content, what topics to write on (still too many?), what categories to use… Lately, I have noticed (the readership of) my blog is not really growing, maybe because I have been to busy to do more than post. I rarely market my blog these days. Or is it because of conflicting branding messages?
Anyways, life has more to it than blogging. There is also the real world…
Tom Peters/Fast Company and Lea Ancantara/The Art of Self Branding both talk about how self branding, as opposed to business branding have no limits. Yes, you can use a blog, But that is just one example. Fast company presents another idea to do projects just to show new people who you are and what you can do and I must say I just love this attitude of working to network:
Sign up for an extra project inside your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills — or work on new ones. Or, if you can carve out the time, take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people.
Writing in local newspapers and volunteering to speak at conferences are other “visibility” tips.
Now over to you, dear reader.
Self branding, is it something you think about? How do you feel about being a brand? If you are a blogger, do you have a “blogging brand”?
Pic borrowed from this blog.