Why Branding Yourself from the Inside Out Isn’t as Painful as it Sounds

Oprah’s got one, Harry Potter is one, and you need to have one.  At least that’s the prevailing wisdom in the social media-centric realm of Web 2.0.  I’m talking about your personal brand, or, as my people call it, your “schtick.”

Step One:  Acceptance

Your brand is the well-honed version of you, the way you market your “you-ness” to the world.  And though it’s common to feel reluctant to prune one’s deliciously rich and complicated persona down to a few easily Googled key words, it’s simply become part of the job.

I make my living as a screenwriter and novelist, so brand building is something I do in my work all the time.  Each time I invent a new character—deciding how they look, where they live, what they do, how they talk—I am branding.  But as all writers know, the task of creating meaningful characters requires that they be developed both as deeply and as efficiently as possible.  Which means that there is always more backstory than ever makes it to the page.

So while your amazing multifaceted personality can still exist in the actual world, it’s important that your Tweets stay “on brand” or “in character.”  What would Oprah say about the Kardashian divorce?  What would Harry Potter say about it?  What would you?

Step Two:  Social Media

Familiar, easily identifiable brands hold currency in Hollywood because they deliver a built-in audience and so can you!

All you need is a website, a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, and a Google+ account (sigh), and you, too, can have hours sucked from your work day solidify your social media presence.  The most important thing here is consistency.  Do you, for instance, have a new book coming out in June?

Due out from Simon & Schuster June, 12, 2012

Pre-order the book here

Then make like you’re Shepard Fairey with a stencil of Andre the Giant in one hand and a can of spray-paint in the other and slap that image everywhere you can, like so:

Next, you need to identify your audience.  For me, it’s primarily—but not exclusively—women between the ages of 14 and 44.  So, in order to build followers, I need to blog and post and Tweet about stuff relevant to them.  Stay in your wheelhouse!  And if I catch you trying to sneak out of your wheelhouse again, young lady, you’ll be grounded for the rest of the month.

Step Three:  Keeping it Real

Remember that last paragraph when I told you to stay in your wheelhouse and you felt like I was oppressing you, even though I tried to use humor to soften the blow?  Well the good news is, you like your wheelhouse.  It’s fun in there, with good music and comfy furniture and funky art on the walls (adding a dash of laid-back hipster chic). And why is your wheelhouse so awesome?  Because it’s 100% all you.

The main thing about your brand is that it’s not a work of fiction, and so building it takes hardly any effort at all.  Your brand is your “voice.”  It’s the music you listen to, the books you read, the movies you watch, and the content you create. It’s your areas of expertise and your unabashed willingness to let your freak flag fly.  And the best part about building your brand from the inside out is that it takes nothing more than a willingness to share your special self with the world.  All of the pieces you need to assemble your brand are already included.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t gussy yourself up a bit before you head out to the grocery store.  Which brings up the point that your brand is actually more of an Errol-Morris-documentary-style-You, than say, a 60-Minutes-You.  But hey, they still gave Morris an Academy Award.

So now you’re ready to fashion your first-person Self into a succinct and engaging third-person You.  But before your personal brand is ready to blast off into cyberspace, you may want to put on a little lipstick first.



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