Three things I did today:
- I went to a workshop today on how to build a personal brand online.
- Scrolled on Instagram
- Read an article by Sheryl Sandberg
When I first started this blog, I didn’t want a brand. I wanted to be anonymous. Perhaps ordinary is a better word for it. I wanted people to read my musings, nod along, or maybe feel moved. Thought influencer? I wouldn’t have dreamed.
Now my dreams are changing. I want to write books. I want to bring comfort with words and tell my truth and encourage others to pursue the beauty offered at our fingertips. It would be nice to grouped into “thought leader” or “leader of her generation” or even “popular blogger to follow.”
As I sat and chewed on my turkey sandwich, the professional marketer told me my brand voice and my personal mission statement need to match across social media profiles. The images I select – the glimpses into my life – are the brand I create for the world to understand.
“Folks only log on and see glimpses of who you are on these platforms,” said the presenter.
But, what about expanding to writing my feelings and emotions? How do those thoughts influence or create a personal brand?
I went back to work and Googled myself. I don’t even think my last name is mentioned in this blog.
Later, I was scrolling on Instagram and one woman my age posted a picture of herself smiling. She recounted that it was astounding when she posted pictures and comments of her darkest times – her sadness, her depression – she received more engagement with her posts. When she posted images of her happiness, recovery, or thriving, people pushed their thumbs right on to the next depressing image.
I sat and stared at her smiling face and thought, “Huh – would this be because people enjoy seeing the suffering of others and think ‘Thank God that’s not me?’ Or rather, ‘Thank God people are being real in this space. Me too. I thought, it was just me.’
Not that happiness isn’t real and admirable. Of course it is. Most folks know though, that happiness takes hard work. We all crave connection and feelings of belonging. If people project their struggles, honest, true highs and lows of life, do they get more engagement?
If we are being true to ourselves – authentic in the moment, and honest with emotions, joys and suffering – why can’t we portray both?
Interestingly enough, before I headed out for the workshop, I came across this article by Sheryl Sandberg: Develop Your Voice, Not Your Brand
” The idea of developing your personal brand is a bad one, according to Sandberg. “People aren’t brands,” she says. “That’s what products need. They need to be packaged cleanly, neatly, concretely. People aren’t like that.”
“Who am I?” asks Sandberg. “I am the COO of Facebook, a company I deeply believe in. I’m an author. I’m a mom. I’m a widow. At some level, I’m still deeply heartbroken. I am a friend and I am a sister. I am a lot of very messy, complicated things. I don’t have a brand, but I have a voice.”
Focus on developing your voice, she says. Figuring out what’s important to you and being willing to use your voice for that purpose is incredibly valuable. “If you are doing it to develop your personal brand, it’s empty and self-serving and not about what you’re talking about,” she says. “If you’re doing it because there is something you want to see changed in the world, that’s where it will have value and depth and integrity.”
Ahh, yes, thank you Sheryl again for making so much sense.
I have brand components. I’ve got a tagline for the blog, and a set of values I live by and my social media profiles reflect pictures of beautiful things – poetry, friendship, coffee, so much coffee. But I will never be a brand.
I will be a voice.
A voice that believes hope floats on whispers and healing can be found in the pursuit of beautiful things.
A voice amplifying my pain of loss mingled with radiating dew drops on grass.
A voice speaking of growing older and losing friendships and the beauty of discovering new connections in basements of members of our church.
A voice aching for the suffering of others that also delights in the first magical bites of a buttery croissant.
I am not a brand.
I’ll follow Sheryl’s template and fill in my own blanks. I encourage you to do the same. Leave a comment, write it in your journal, or share with a friend.
Whew, that’s a relief. I can cross create personal brand right off my list.
What a beautiful thing.