You don’t have to be a business entity to “brand yourself”.
Think of it as asking yourself:
- Who am I?
- Where am I in my life right now?
- Where do I want to be?
- What do I stand for?
- What will I be remembered for?
What you show and put into the world is your identity. Your brand identity is how you are perceived by the world which is much larger nowadays than just your local community.
This is maybe something you’ve never given much thought to, and that’s okay. There are some important times in my life where I’ve had to really think about this and I found it super helpful when deciding what kind of parent to be or what kind of jobs I would say yes to.
Those are big picture issues (parenting style, work life) but there are many areas in your life that could benefit from a little thought or pre-planning on your part. From everyday interactions with coworkers, groups and friends to what you spend your energy on in online environments. All of these put together paints a picture of what you stand for and what you will be remembered for when you are gone.
This absolutely ties into speaking your truth (that’s your history, origin story and a deep dive into what you stand for and why). I view brand identity more like a visual thing with a mission and vision statement that once written down can be referred back to when I’m in doubt of where I am or where I’m going. I am unequipped to delve deeper into it than that for you – there are a million resources online that can give you tools to help you accomplish creating such things.
My main reason for bringing this topic up has to do with that online presence piece of the equation.
Our culture has shifted so much since the internet became a thing that everyone can connect to. In the early days it was uncommon for people to be using their real name and sharing personal information online. Nowadays people share everything and anything with perfect strangers. I really like this graphic I found on Pinterest – it sums that concept up pretty well:
1998 – Use aliases, don’t share any personal info or photos
2008 – Use your real name so you can connect to work and friends but be cautious of what else you share
2019 – Real name, birthday, here’s a photo of my kids, cat, dog, what I ate today, and oh yeah – this is the town I live in, what events I’m going to be at and here’s my phone number, call me.
After a while all of those likes, shares and posts that you’ve sprinkled over the internet through various websites start to create a picture of who you are and what you stand for. This is true even if you don’t really stand for it but just kinda liked something in the moment that you saw it.
Delving even further into the data that you’ve left behind – the robots know this information about you as well so they know what to use to entice you into things. Which maybe isn’t such a bad thing but I can’t stop thinking about those short movies that bots are creating for Netflix – they are hilarious but also kinda scary in what they perceive about human nature and the reasoning behind things.
I heard a story about data mining and how crazy accurate it can be. I can’t recall where I was at the time or how true this particular information was but this is what I remember of it: Target was using purchasing info and search history to predict when to send you advertisements about some things. They got “caught” or “found out” after they sent advertisements about pregnancy and baby products to a teenage girl, whose father was not amused – the girl was pregnant and Target was collecting a whole lot of information about her. It’s scary that information collected could predict major life events before you even know of them.
Have you Googled yourself or browsed your own profiles to see what you are presenting to the world? It can be kinda scary, especially if you’ve been using the internet for a long time like me (Yahoo and I go way back..all the way to the 90’s). Rock stars, movie stars and politicians have people who do that for them on both sides of the equation: PR Firms and disgruntled fans.
Delving into your history isn’t something the average new acquaintance will be doing but it’s common for employers and leaders of organizations to do it. What do you want those people to know about you?
That’s why impulse control is super important in the online environment. Maybe you don’t care and that’s okay. But I know I don’t want to associate online with some of my family members because they have zero impulse control over what they like, share and post. Sorry “insert family name here”, I wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with you irl either if that’s how you act and behave in person and if that’s what you really believe in.
Truly though, I don’t expect people to associate with me either as I’ve let go of some of my self-imposed limits on what I will or will not say. For example, I’ve turned my LinkedIn profile to hibernate for now, self-distancing from past work associates as part of my impulse control strategy.
Idk, I’m just me and truly don’t care to be anyone else or someone that others want me to be. Basically, I got too old to give a frack and I still stand for what’s important to me. However, I understand that that isn’t something that others will always appreciate. If people find me here and connect, sweet. If not, no worries on my end.
If you do care about the picture you are painting but aren’t sure how to go about figuring it out there’s a great tool that I use called, of all things, BrandYourself. It’s a tool that does some data mining for you and can help you figure out what should be changed, deleted or promoted. I would never pay them money for this (price is crazy ridiculous, sorry-maybe with a discount 🤪) but it for sure is worth the free peek to see where you’re most vulnerable.
Everyone is unique, quirky and beautiful in their own ways. Just be choosy in how you present yourself and think before you act (like, share or post) to make sure that you are presenting the best version of yourself to the world.
Thoughts on Brand Identity
Da’Nela, an American Misfit, [she/her/hers/trying to be humanish, maybe]