Branding Bootcamp Week 1: Who Do You Think You Are?

(www.inkthinkerblog.com) — Welcome to Branding Bootcamp. I’m Erin Blakemore, your drill sergeant/trusty instructor, and I like to think I walk the walk…after all, I’ve been helping clients in different industries with brand strategy and marketing for years. My current company, VOCO Creative, takes brands seriously…and encourages our clients to have fun with their personal brand.

What’s a brand, anyway?

The quick answer: identity. A company’s brand includes its logo, its name, the taglines from any campaigns, its design strategy, the accumulation of news reports, its professional reputation. Think of Apple…with their sleek design, unforgettably simple logo, and two-word catchphrases, they’re easy to spot and hard to forget. That, my friends, is a brand.

But I don’t need a brand…do I?

I hear you, I really do. Why commodify yourself or succumb to a corporate view of your internal truths? Like it or not, it’s time for a reality check. If you’re going to differentiate yourself from the next writer, mom, accountant, or truck driver, you’re going to need to put some thought, intention, and soul-searching into what separates you from the pack. Good news: you can take control over your personal brand…and manage the impressions and expectations of others. Better yet, you probably already have a stronger personal brand than you think.

For the rest of this session, I’m going to pose an extremely simple question. No, it’s not a Zen koan or a mantra. I’m going to ask you: Who do you think you are?

Scared yet? I thought so. Give it some thought. This could be the most important question you ever ask yourself. That’s because your personal brand – as a writer, as a person, as a friend – is built on the very foundations of your values and character. Your language, culture, memories, influences, friends, interests, hobbies, dislikes…all of these can be drawn upon to create a memorable brand. No matter who you are.

Why does it matter? If years of marketing and branding experience have taught me one thing, it’s this: you can’t move forward unless you know where you are. Even if your brand is that of an alter-ego or superhuman, you can’t escape from yourself. And why should you want to? I guarantee that you have the answer.

This week’s drill: Take 15 minutes and go to a quiet place. Take a deep breath and ask yourself the million-dollar question. Who Do I Think I Am? Then write down a description of what you value in 50 words or less. Will this be hard? Hell yes. Will it be worth it? You be the judge. Join me next week as I tell you how to turn your personal values into an unforgettable external brand. And feel free to post your summary in the comments…I want to know what you’re thinking!

Erin Blakemore

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