Personal Branding Alert!
I feel it is time to put my point of view (POV) across about the term and the process of Personal Branding.
I would rather not use the term at all. But, in the name of SEO and keyword searching, I have no choice in the matter 😉
It is more of an evolving, discerning dislike that does not fit with the feeling and nature of who I am and what my business is truly about.
Let me explain…
The words just don’t sit well with me anymore. I don’t think they ever did.
For a start, in the dictionary, personal branding is described as a particular identity or image and regarded as an asset. It sits alongside an abundance of descriptors related to livestock branding, slavery, criminals, a mark of disgrace, stigma, swords and burning wood. The term was initially used as part of livestock branding and was adopted to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot branding iron. So, this conjures up the feeling of being just one of the cattle, where some external force has decided to burn… yes burn… a permanent label onto us…an external label to identify us as this or that.
I don’t know about you, but personally I feel that I am always evolving and can even show up differently depending what part of my menstrual cycle I am in (but that’s another blogpost). I feel quite boxed-in by the idea of spending money branding myself into a pigeon-hole.
No wonder we get overwhelmed and blocked by the very idea of personal branding, as it feels like a permanent mark, stain, spot, blot, taint to then be placed in a certain field of livestock. Which field?
Do you know what I mean, right?
I understand and acknowledge that branding has it’s place in the world today, with the fierce competition between global companies and the social conditioning we are used to in our culture. We have learned to recognise and rely on brands that we trust, or that align with our values. Research shows how we are affected by colour psychology etc and, with a simple Google search, there is plenty of online information to inform us of this.
But, over the years, I have moved away from the big brands and have increasingly searched out for those, say, little independent cafes, the friendly man serving at the local store, the quirky independent bookshops that also sell hats etc: something deliciously different, yet resonant at the same time.
The ‘independents’ feel more authentic to me, more aligned with my values; different, unusual, connected, more whole in some way:a feeling… I am bored following trends and buying into big brand promises and polished expertise. They never seem to quite deliver an enduring warm and fuzzy buzz in my heart.
I acknowledge they have their place, so please don’t feel I am totally anti-brand. I am not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.
This is just me expressing that I sway more towards a certain POV. I feel the need to place my stake in the ground on where I stand with the whole idea of personal branding. After all, it is an important part of the fabric of my business. I want to embrace that it helps to set us apart from our competition and I know its place. That aside, I don’t want to conform with the mass understanding of branding and the formulaic labelling and claustrophobic boundaries it provides…To ‘brand’ is to run the risk of establishing and confirming a fixed label at the exclusion of all our other qualities as a human being.
When we brand our businesses as solopreneurs, we effectively are packaging our identity up into a combination of logos, fonts and colours and an online expert-driven presence, labelling it as our brand label to define us, or how we want to be perceived. We are influenced by our comparisons with our peers and also the overwhelming tips and advice attacking us from every angle:exhausting. It may leave us finding it difficult to be confident in our brand and be true to our nature.
The consequences of personal branding
If we carry on like this, we are all going to look the same. We are all going to be ‘on trend’. We are all going to look like the brand-laden cities and towns that now blot the landscape and we no longer will be the quirky independent businesses that light us up in some unique way…Do you know what I’m saying? We lose our soul branding.
I see the hunger we all have for something different, something that appeals more to the whole of our true nature– call it whole-hearted. But it is something that needs to reflect your within and connect to your without and it can be paradoxical and unpredictable at times, but a pleasure to connect YOUR tribe with the real YOU.
Not just a permanent mark, I also see branding as a bit of a mask. We decide how we want to show up in our business and align with our business values…But are they are true values, or what we think we should be confining ourselves to? We run the risk of splintering ourselves off from other qualities within us, qualities needed to run a successful business. What if we wanted our business brand to strictly appear as soft, gentle and always open….It may feel awkward and ‘off-brand’ if we then have a client who oversteps our boundaries, forcing us to show our firmer side (which, of course, is a healthy response needed to protect our own sacred boundaries).
Our brand is not about being everything to everyone, so that our tribe cannot recognise us. I just feel we need to use some discernment when we decide on our Personal Brand and really get to know what we value in our lives and business. Understanding ourselves and what makes us tick (and why) a bit better, ensures we are not splintering ourselves off from parts of ourselves that could be useful in our business, or labelling ourselves one way or another. We run the risk of feeling the straight-jacket of our personal brand and wonder why we feel disconnected or exhausted with our online homes, continually reflecting that ‘it does not quite feel like me anymore’.
Where does that leave us?
So the branding journey is not necessarily about following all the expert information, guidance, should and should not’s, but more about understanding yourself within and finding a more rounded solution that encapsulates a more authentic and resonant you. Choosing the qualities you want to convey for the right reasons and not throwing out the possibilities of change and evolution. That is why I try to guide my clients to keep their websites as simple-connected-expansive as possible, to easily edit and evolve over time. I even try to distance them from logos where possible. We just need to understand why we want to be seen in a certain way, get underneath it a bit more and peel back the layers of the onion.
You probably won’t get lots of typical marketing , SEO and branding tips and advice here (despite the business advice I keep hearing on how to present myself as EXPERT). I am more about an’ independent soul cafe ‘ approach and its going to be a bit quirky at times, but at least I am showing up, in my true nature, in the way it wishes to express itself at any given time…But I want you to know, that I have your whole-self best interests at heart when I am in service for you…
We need a softer approach to branding so that we can discover that there is a human being at the end of it connecting with other human beings who need a service…Just like me who just happens to have a different set of skills (zone of genius) than you and that I can probably help you out sometimes, as you can me. It is practically impossible to be able to do everything in your business…That would be a recipe for burnout 😉
To help with a more soulful, softer, true nature branding, I am currently creating resources that will help take you on a different branding journey. One I hope you will enjoy and resonate with. Watch this space…
If you understand my POV and would like to connect with me further about how I can help you, then do contact me here. I love to meet new people.
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