This post was prepared as a response to Just How Valuable is Personal Branding on Des Walsh’s blog Thinking Home Business. I have modified it slightly here.
Re personal branding, I am with the contrarians. The term ‘personal brand’ began to peeve me some time ago, perhaps because I have always hated anyone’s attempts to pigeonhole me. I wondered how I was going to do that to myself. Then I decided I wouldn’t, no matter how fashionable it is.
I am in the process of re-starting this blog yet again, a blog which I think shows some of the pitfalls involved in personal branding. Initially, I spent a lot of time developing a clear focus for the blog, which was to be an academic blog about the shared nature of creativity. I called it ‘Culture is a Conversation’ based on a phrase in a book by JD Lasica. That brand ended up being a conversation stopper, which constrained me from posting most of my thoughts.
I decided to move from that focus, and explained why. It would be possible to read that post either way, as a further exploration of how to arrive at a personal brand, or as a rejection of personal branding in favour of emergent practice. I favour the latter.
Today I was editing the ‘about me’ page of this blog when a tweet came past about Des’ discussion. There I state the limits of my self-branding:
‘I like the education I have had, as it gives me the ability to approach anything from a humanities, scientific or creative perspective; and to see things from the intersection of all three. Emphasising this diversity is as close as I am prepared to get to the current notion of ‘personal branding’. I mistrust anything that might make my life smaller, and I have no interest in defining any presets for my thinking. I will use whatever tools I have in whatever way my content requires.’
To constrain myself to a ‘brand’ would risk limiting my vision to things that already exist. Then again, maybe I could just add ‘contrarian’ to that brand-like list above, because I usually end up being one 😉