Disclaimer: I love Maureen Johnson’s “I am not a brand” manifesto down to the last punctuation mark. That’s not the approach to branding I’m talking about.
An author’s brand isn’t about selling. It’s about recognizing that what we say and how we act affects what others think of us. It’s about then taking an active role in shaping that impression.
Chuck Wendig had a great post yesterday that made a similar point:
Your platform is how people know you — it’s their perception of you as an author, but even more importantly, of you as a human being.
As we talked about last time, we all have different facets to our personality. We show some more than others, but they are all essentially us. Every time we interact with others, whether online or face-to-face, we decide which aspects to reveal.
For most of our lives, these choices have been made at an unconscious level. Those who work in a technical field automatically switch between acronym salad with co-workers and non-geek-speak around grandparents. However, by becoming conscious of those choices, we can more effectively mold how others perceive us.
Step One: How Do You Want to Be Perceived?
Yes, this brings back all that teenage “who am I?” angst and “What Color Is Your Parachute” type of thinking. We need to think about what aspects are important to us.
- What are you passionate about?
- What aspects are reflected in your writing?
- Do you have privacy or safety concerns?
Going back to Chuck Wendig’s post, he says:
Figure out who you are and who you want to be. … You are transitioning from Regular Human to Author Human. … [N]ow is a good time to slap a new coat of paint on who you want the world to see. … This should be the best and most interesting face of who you already are. No ruse, no illusion.
Analyze what makes you tick, what makes you excited, and what makes you uncomfortable. Maybe take some of those online personality tests.
My friend Diana Paz from Twitter found a fun quiz to match your personality with a literary character. I love my results, both for the fact that it picked a character from my favorite books and for the description:
You are Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. You are trusting and intensely loyal. You would go to the ends of the earth for your friends and would never betray them.
The characteristics that generated my result are some I do consider integral to my being (seeing the best in people, helping others, not getting offended, and never wanting to be seen as a liar or a cheat). That world-view likely shines through in my writing as well. So those are great aspects for me to focus on in creating my brand.
Step Two: Incorporate Those Traits into Your Interactions
Oh wait, my brand (i.e. my blog and Twitter stream) probably embodies those traits already—because they are such a core part of my personality that my words and actions reflect them naturally.
And that’s my point. Your brand isn’t a false representation of yourself, and it’s also not some limiting little box. It’s you as you consciously choose to be.
If you want your brand to be all professional all the time, that’s your choice. If you want to talk about your kids all the time, that’s your choice. Make the choices that are right for you.
Does the fact that I consciously thought about how to answer the questions in my interview at Rachel Firasek’s blog make it less genuine? I don’t think so. Just because I answered in a way that reflected the impression I wanted to create doesn’t make any of it a lie. The answers are still completely truthful—and me.
Did I share every story from my life? No. For one thing, that recitation would be too long for a memoir much less a blog post. Also, not even my family knows everything about me. Heck, I don’t know everything there is to know about me.
So of course I had to choose which things to share. Making a conscious decision is not bad. And not revealing everything about everything is not being false.
Authors choose certain words, sentence structures, setting details, or character movements for their books to create the desired response in the reader. We can, and should, take that same approach to our brand. What we choose and how we choose is our brand.
What aspects of your personality do you want people to see? Does your brand reflect that? Do you disagree with me—does making decisions consciously make them less genuine?Pin It