|Self-Portrait - Vincent van Gogh|
To me, a brand is a cultivated fiction, it's an image spun from a grain of truth. You hear about athletes and celebrities cultivating brands, whether it's a tough-guy image or a nice-guy image or one of dispassionate competency. Is it true? Doesn't really matter. It's a public front.
As I alluded to in my post on LeBron James, brand sorcery used to work in the TV era, but not anymore. The Internet doesn't tolerate a false front. It loves loves loves nothing more than to expose the truth and stomp all over "brands," as Tiger Woods and Anthony Weiner have discovered all too keenly.
The only, and I mean only way to approach a world of social media is with honesty, transparency, and authenticity. You can't fake out the Internet for long.
And it's not even about morality - look at how the Internet has (mostly) embraced Charlie Sheen and denigrated LeBron James. The key difference is authenticity.
For me personally, this blog reflects my real life. The personality I express here is me, the opinions are my own, and the topics I post about are the things I'm thinking about. Sure, I maintain a certain professional decorum (usually) and I don't divulge my deepest darkest thoughts (usually) but this isn't a false front. This is me.
Now that I'm an author, people have suggested that I should change up my "brand" - I should start a blog that appeals to a more middle grade audience, I should start a separate blog for self-promotion, I should stop talking so much about my own book.
And sure, I could try and change up my "brand." But I don't think it would work, because it wouldn't be real. This blog has always reflected where I am in my personal and professional life. I was an agent, so I blogged about agenting. Now have a book out, so I talk about my book. That's where my head is at. I can only speak with authority on the actual things I'm thinking about.
My advice for people who are trying to carve out their own space in social media is not to think about what you think your blog or your Twitter presence should be, but rather to embrace who you really are. Be yourself. Let your own voice shine through. Lots of people have ideas about what you should be, but you can only be who you are.
The only brand you've got is you.