I’ve been reading a lot about branding lately, and no, I don’t mean the type that involves hot fires and cattle. I mean personal branding, that new Web 2.0 idea that you’re not just a human being, you’re also a brand.
A personal brand is essentially what you’re super-good at and why you’re unique, and the best personal brands also identify their target audience/market/customers. When I worked at a local food shelf in the mid-90’s and was the only one who could sweet-talk a computer into coughing up needed info from our database (I eventually created a new database for them), they started calling me “Techno-goddess” and I will admit that affected to some extent how I saw myself. I was actually good at something and people appreciated it!
Today I ran across this article: Does Your Brand Tell a Powerful Story? – Brand Story – Entrepreneur.com in which it suggests that telling your brand story is what will set you apart from all of the other people who do the same thing you do and are also good at it.
But in this age where social media has practically eliminated privacy from our lives, where many feel that they have to tweet and blog and update their statuses (stati?) just to have their presence on the planet acknowledged, where do we draw the boundaries?
I mean, how much of us do we need out there?
One of my favorite bits of comedy is from a 60’s Peter, Paul & Mary album with a track called Paultalk. Noel Paul Stookey is talking about society’s obsession with itself, noting that first we had a magazine called Life. Then there was a magazine called People. Not all of life, just people. And then, in a brilliant bit of self-obsession, came Us. Not them. Only us. Finally, he said, he expected any day a magazine called Me. A dozen pages of Reynolds Wrap®. (Ironically, this comedy bit was performed long before Self magazine came out.)
And here we are. Me. And not just Me, but Me 2.0. (There’s a book by than name, too, btw. All about–wait for it–personal branding.)
There are things I could share that make me unique, that make me stand out from all of the other Jewish suspense author/publishers out there (because there’s so many of us). But do you really want, or need, to know that I tripped over a sprinkler head when I was seven and broke my little finger and it never healed right and it’s now forever bent? Do you really need to know that I keep insisting on the spellings of catalog and dialogue and see nothing wrong with the inconsistency? (And my editor can’t stand that.)
How personal do I need to get to personally brand myself and stand out from the crowd?
Well, apparently all you need to do is look for the Jewish author/publisher with the crooked pinkie who can’t spell. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what the personal branding experts had in mind.