In my commitment to live bolder, truer, Me’er, I’ve got to be clear that I am not “a brand.” (Yep, that’s rather strange for a “branding expert” to say.) I earn my living by teaching about what I live. And it never fails that the more transparent I am, the more useful I seem to be.
It’s tricky shit because I’m also deeply private. I ask more questions than I answer. I struggle with privacy issues and interruptions make me mental. Most of the time, I prefer to be invisible. And yet I’m very upfront about the fact that, vocationally speaking, I’ll be thrilled to be a household name someday. I consider contradictions a hobby.
When your persona starts to wag your person, you’ve got trouble.
So with all that introvert-extrovert creative tension I have to keep my persona in check. And it occurred to me that ever so subtly, I might be setting myself up to hide behind my brand. That I might be creating products and images that hemmed me in in the future. And while good branding makes for good commerce, it can be a real drag for freeing your art.
When I changed my Twitter name last week from @whitehottruth to @daniellelaporte I got some questions. (If you tweet, twit, twitter, then you know that your twitter handle is a very big deal.) @stephendavis02 wanted to know if my name was taken before and just got freed up? @ealvarezgibson wondered if my account had been hijacked. When @chrisguillebeau asked what was up, I told him I just got out of the witness protection program.
Names are hugely important. And yeah baby, White Hot Truth is damn sexy. That’s why I named my site that. But I’m not my site. Or my books. Or the stuff I make.
As Paula Cole puts it:
I am not the person who is singing
I am the silent one inside
I am not the one who laughs at people’s jokes, I just pacify their egos.
I am not my house, my car, my songs
those are only stops along they way
I am like the winter
I’m a dark cold female
with a golden ring of wisdom in my cave.
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. But so am I. Stay with me.
3 KEYS TO GENUINE BRANDING… or UN-BRANDING. YOUR CHOICE.
1. Keep it pointed to where you want it to go. What do you want to be known for next year, and for years after that? If Twyla Tharp were on Twitter I think she’d go by twylatharp, not “creativehabit.” @EckhartTolle tweets, and he’s not “PowerOfNow”. Think like a legend.
2. Live artfully. I couldn’t bare to lock myself into a “brand” that I felt restricted by. I’ve done that and it hurts. A lot. I want to live like as an artist and it’s the “designer” kind of business model that works best for me. Donna Karan is “Donna Karan”. That leaves her free to do cashmere, fragrances, and Urban Zen. Keep your essence at the helm and you can’t go wrong.
3. Walk proud. Take deep breaths when you need to–it’s not always easy being authentic. Within a day of changing my Twitter name I got all strange and unsettled about it. Zoinks. Was that a bad move? Are my re-tweets going to plummet? I emailed my assistant and asked her if I’d screw up anything by reversing it… then quickly emailed her back and told her to ignore me.
Learning to trust that you’re enough, without a gimmick or a sidekick or a discount offering takes some faith and practice.
If you’re selling widgets or scaling a company that you want to sell off someday, then packaging is paramount. If you’re selling your soul–in the best possible way, remember that a little theatre goes a long way, but you still need to show up on stage as the real you. And when you do, applause will follow.