Brand vs. self: getting it right when your brand is you

Something I’ve been battling a lot recently is brand tone and voice.

Specifically? Exploring ways to create a brand when the brand is… me.

Marketing yourself is the hardest kind of marketing

As somebody with a background in marketing, I feel like I have a pretty good grip on brand representation, and how to explore that in the digital world.

Going it alone, however, has been a totally different ball game. I’ve been making things, deleting things, wishing I hadn’t deleted things, creating strategies, throwing strategies in the bin, tearing my hair out over what to post and what not to post.

Basically, I’ve been messing up all over the place.

Feeling authentic

In a digital world full of carefully contrived content, it’s hard to feel like you’re being authentic. It’s hard to know if you even want to be authentic because… does authenticity sell? Sometimes, for sure. But… not always.

And although certain marketing techniques and ‘forced’ content would likely propel my business towards more success, I’d be unhappy. I’d be ‘creating content’, rather than just creating. Which is the whole reason I went into business for myself in the first place: so I could sit in my office at 2am furiously creating some new idea for a video or putting my own spin on a writing assignment.

What mistakes have I made?

  • I created two instagrams: the serious one, and the ‘me’ one.
  • I kept my personal blog to the side. Unseen: the poetry, the sharing, the deep insights into who I am as a person, just didn’t fit with ‘Rachel Sarah Media: Time to Be Serious’.
  • Not shared or even created certain things because I felt they weren’t ‘corporate’ enough.
  • I deleted a YouTube channel which had been gaining traction. It’s just flat out gone. 
  • I began to cultivate a business version of myself. Still casual in tone, but decidedly more serious.
  • I then tried to juggle both online personas.

 I hated it.

Whilst this kind of approach works for some people, it didn’t feel right to me. It was pretty shit, to be honest. I immediately started resenting Rachel Sarah Media and found excuses not to write blog posts, not to update the Instagram.

I quickly found more than enough work to keep me busy, so my website and social presence took a step into the background; branding is less important if work is coming in anyway, right?

No! Wrong. This issue has been lurking in the back of my mind for months now. It’s important to feel comfortable and happy with your business and how it presents to the outside world, especially if it’s a representation of you as a person.

It’s important to spend time on cultivating something you’ll love, something you’ll be proud to share. 

So, what to do when your brand is you?

If you feel comfortable with the carefully crafted-not-quite-you content and it works, then pursue it. If you do it right, this strategy could likely lead you to whatever money, success, fulfilment you are seeking. Find your brand tone by doing all the things for yourself that any new business would.

But.

If you’re like me and you crave authenticity: embrace you.

 

Because if I’m coming to take photos, I’m behind the camera. If your website is getting rewritten, you speak to me. If one of my team is enhancing your social media presence, you communicate via me.

If you’re going into business with me, you have to be okay with me. And my dungarees, and my not so polished persona. That’s not the way all businesses work but it’s what works for me.

If you’re in this game to be you, to express yourself, then creating an inauthentic representation of yourself will, essentially, be a hollow and unfulfilling endeavour.

You’ll find yourself wasting time changing things because they feel either too contrived or too casual (or real). You’ll either be juggling two personas or your brand will end up an unsatisfying middle ground that’s not engaging for yourself or for your audience.

  • Don’t delete ANYTHING

Especially a whole YouTube Channel. Just hide it or something.

  • Do get advice from others

But don’t follow their suggestions blindly

  • Don’t overplan

If you’re anything like me you’ll spend more time planning than doing.

  • Don’t undercharge

EVEN IF YOU’RE NEW. If you’re good at what you do, value yourself and your work. Make others value it too!

  • Do have confidence

Cliche. Sorry. But seriously, you’ve got this far. Put value you yourself both as a human being and as a ‘brand’.

N.B. being authentic does NOT mean not having a strategy. You’ll still need to do your market research, do your Google Analytics, and have something worth selling. 

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