…and all of a sudden, it’s been two months since my last post.
A little reflection has led to these thoughts on personal branding. Or, more accurately, keeping up with your personal brand. All of us writers/marketers/millennials have heard it: “If you don’t have a personal brand, you don’t have a way to stand out.” So we choose color schemes and logos, stamping them on the corners of our resumes. We create blogs and spend hours finding the perfect topics. We respond to comments, go retweet-crazy on our favorite writers, and make This American Life’s broadcasts a regular part of our daily commute.
We settle into a personal brand routine. It reps who we are to those who don’t even know us.
But what happens when it no longer gels? When there’s a gap between who we want to be and who we present ourselves as?
Like PBR before the Chinese market launch, we rebrand.
The biggest challenge that comes with this is the line between progression and moral track-switching. I’ve thought it all too often since leaving high school four years ago. How do we learn and adapt without changing ‘who we really are?’
We can’t. With any rebrand, whether business-minded or personal, there will be changes in what you believe is truthful. You might pick apart spreads you designed just weeks ago or an essay you drafted your first week out of grad school. I might hate this post in less than a year. You might turn cold on a TV show you once loved, or sport clothes you’ve always trash-talked on others. The only way to stay true to the person underneath the ‘brand’ is to accept that the person is constantly changing. Subtle, yes. We incrementally prefer different foods, music, books, and habits than we did just the day before. But we can focus on our passions, our talents, and our goals instead of the way we choose to label ourselves (or let others label us). We can accept that change happens, no matter how often, and we can get comfortable with the person behind the logo. It’s what my friends did when I got new “hipster” glasses, as they lovingly call them, and it’s what we did when WalMart got rid of the smiley face logo. It’s still the same old WalMart, and I still have the same shotty eyesight.
Now, ‘branding’ is just an evolution of how we project ourselves in our industry. It’s a word that could be swapped with a Facebook profile picture. They’re both chosen by you, seen by the public, and never show the day-to-day change.
So this blog is a part of my personal brand. And as I move to full-time marketer, part-time student, and freelancer on the side, it will get pushed to the back burner more often than not. But it is only one part of what I consider to be my life. My brand. My Facebook profile picture. And sometimes just ‘keeping up’ with one part of your life is alright. We’ll call it brand maintenance.