Building a Brand

Building a Brand

In the summer of 2009, I attended a half-day conference . As my friend and I filled out our name tags, I suggested that we put our Twitter handles on our tags instead of our names.

I’d been tweeting for about two months at that point, and I was hooked. When I introduced myself as my Twitter handle, I began to merge my personal identity and brand with the brand of the blog I was writing.

At the time, it seemed like a great strategy.

Yet as I worked to build the blog’s brand, my own brand became obscure, both to myself and to others. My professional identity became fused with the blog’s identity. I didn’t only write the blog, I was the blog.

That’s why this ending is so difficult for me.

It’s not like a bad breakup or an awful divorce, when two previously intimate people end their relationship. In fact, I still hold deep affection for the people I worked with at the university. I want to see the blog, the university, and its programs become even more successful.

But the leaving — it’s leaving part of myself: disengaging and untangling my own brand from the blog’s brand. It’s painful, as partings are. But it’s right, it’s necessary, and it’s right on time.

In my naivety, in my excitement, in my determination to succeed, I got that part confused.

From here, though, I will build differently.

I will do what I wish I had done from the beginning: build my own brand. This blog bears my name for one important reason: my brand is me. (Thanks, Wally.)

If branding is a new idea for you, you may find a lesson (or two) here.

Be clear about your brand. When you are working to promote an organization publicly, maintain your own identity, drawing definite boundaries between your brand and the organization’s brand.

Take a long term view. It’s exciting to throw yourself  “all in” with your organization. You are passionate about your organization or your cause. You are committed and enthusiastic. And…you will likely move on from this organization to another one, from this project to another. Even if you are certain that you want to stay with this organization until the end of your career, it is still important to nurture your own brand. You — and the organization you align yourself with — will be stronger as a result.

Today marks my last post at the other blog. Stop over to read that post, or to check out some more of my writing about branding:

Branding Decisions in Social Media

Staging/Branding

Tell me something! How do you maintain a distinction between your own brand and your organization? What are you doing to nurture your brand?

Filed As:  the last post, Twitter

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Great stuff as always!!!

  • I have gotten interested in the concept of personal branding over the last year or two. If you put what you do within the context of how your personal brand is perceived by others, you tend to think twice about doing and saying things in your professional and personal life that could create a negative perception.

    • Gregg, I am curious: do you have any set of questions or paradigm you use in considering how what you say and do will affect your personal brand? If so, perhaps you will write about it on your blog or share a response here. Also, are you familiar with Penelope Trunk’s work? I would be interested to hear about your perceptions of her and how she shapes her brand.

  • Becky,

    Glad to see things get moving over here at Weaving Influence. Your observations are right-on. Some accidents are fortunate.

    Lately, it’s been a challenge for me to separate my personal brand from that of the Lead Change Group too. I’m fortunate to use my own name in most of my links and handles, but I haven’t taken the time to get my own leadership blog up after months of promoting LCG as a community blog. There must be a parallel to the story about the cobbler’s children…

    For me, the second-most interesting thing is that personal branding is new. Like a frontier, we’re all sharing what works and what doesn’t and figuring it out as we go. The most interesting thing is all the great new friends we get to make as we forge our way through. I’m glad to have had the chance to get to know you.

    Merry Christmas! I look forward to your success in 2011.

    • Mike,

      To me, the fact that you have poured your time and energy into the Lead Change Blog is evidence of your character as a leader and your commitment to adding value to others. In many ways, you are building your brand — letting who you are shine through — as you do that important work.

      I agree with you that the most interesting part of this new online world is the great friendships we form. I am especially grateful to you for your consistent encouragement in my life. I look forward to more chances to collaborate with you as we lead change in 2011.

  • Great advice Becky – I’ll be sure to keep this in mind as I build my new blog and try to establish an identity online.

  • Becky —

    Great post that resonates! I jumped into Twitter nearly two years ago (yikes, that long ago?!), not really sure what the social media thing was all about. Throughout my corporate career, I’d picked up several nicknames, one of them being “the HR goddess.” So, on a lark, I chose that for my Twitter handle. One thing led to another and soon I was knee-deep into new friends and connections on Twitter — another part of the second act of my life where I focus on helping people become better leaders. What’s that line about hindsight :)?!

    With a smile,

    Jane

    • Jane,

      We are all learning as we go. I love this learning that happens in collaboration with each other and I am grateful to you for the wisdom you share, the encouragement you give, and the friendship you offer. And yes, you are the HR Goddess in my mind. Thanks for the value you add, every day, on Twitter and your blog! Looking forward to more opportunities to interact in 2011.

  • Becky, your observations are very valid as that is what I am learning as I recently looked to separate the two (I mean as recently as October this year). I was putting up articles on our company website and only set up a separate Blog in October when the reference to we/I/me got confusing in some of my articles. I was also previously limited in my style of writing as I wanted my views and opinions to be separated from those of the company.

    Reading your post, I am comforted I am headed in the right direction as now I Blog more frequently and have also stuck to my identity on twitter, rather than pushing the business’s agenda. Liberating indeed as there is a renewed inspiration. Good luck with the rest of your journey.

    • Thanks, Thabo.

      It sounds like you are on the right track. I’m glad my post could be an encouragement to you.

      I am glad that investing in your own brand has given you new inspiration. Amazingly, when we invest in ourselves, we have more to give to others. I am guessing you have been more effective in your efforts within your organization since you made this change.

      I appreciate that you continue to be engaged here and I look forward to more conversation with you in the days ahead.

  • Ah great post, Becky.

    As you know/discovered, there is a bit of a battle between who we are as an employee (or contractor, representing a company) and ourselves.

    It’s a fine line of where our loyalty lies, and how to distinguish between our personal lives and our professional lives.

    From a business POV, management needs to be knowledgeable enough in social media and the online world so they don’t rely heavily on one personality to represent them. That makes it easier when that person leaves.

    For individuals, I think there’s less risk because, whether we’re acting on our own or on behalf of the company, our personality and expertise are “out there” for all to see. That can help our company but also help us for the next gig.

    For other POVs, David Binkowski has a great post on personal branding (and references one of my posts): http://davidbinkowski.blogspot.com/2008/08/take-team-for-one.html

    And, Scott Monty is often written about for how he uses his own brand in his role to help Ford: http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/30/news/economy/building_your_brand.fortune/index.htm.

    Hope this helps fuel the conversation!
    Take care,
    -Mike

  • Becky, I do know what you mean about this!! Someone a few years ago gave me the advice to introduce yourself by your name only (without the addition of your company name too!) That way, people remember you as YOU and not as associated with any particular firm.

    I was chuckling at some of the comments about Twitter as well. In hindsight, I would have used my whole first name, as opposed to just my first initial and last name. Who knew?!?!

    You’re off to a great start, Becky!!

  • I agree with you completely Becky! When you look at my blog you know I’ve done the same thing. I believe personal branding is important. It is one thing for a church to have a blog for announcements and that sort of thing but if a pastor wants to start promoting the church online… they will carry more weight if they are simply themselves. 🙂

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