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