A few months ago, someone interviewed me on the topic of job hunting, specifically after college. It was an interesting conversation that lasted much longer than I expected (probably because I was rambling the entire time), but I vividly remember one question that I wanted to share with you all.
“Why do you blog? Is it a way to get yourself out there? To brand yourself?”
“No, I blog because I like to write. Because I want to improve on it!”
I want to make it clear: “Personal Branding” is a phrase I have banned. As a senior in college with meager job prospects in a terrible market, you would think blogging would be my “way in.” But, I like to think that I write without having ulterior motives. Because really, what exactly is the point of branding yourself if there is no tangible outcome? Here are some of the main differences I see between blogging for a personal brand and blogging just to… well, blog:
1. Personal branding is a formula, writing is an art form. Don’t believe me? Then check out the first thing I Googled for personal branding: Personal Branding 101. Follow these steps and within no time at all you will have the clients/job you’ve always wanted. But, really.
2. Personal branding makes you a product, writing makes you a person. If you like branding, then you probably know about Apple’s brand evolution. Today, it is a little eerie to see that Apple (a product) is often treated as if it were a real person. Have you seen how offended people get when they compare Androids to iPhones? We may be on the verge of a full-blown smartphone war.
Writing on the other hand, is a great way to reveal what makes you different without trying to sell.
3. Personal branding is for business, writing is recreational. A year ago, I took an international branding class and in that class I learned that brands were “lifestyle extensions.” What this means is that people buy specific brands so that they will fit in with the lives they lead. Brands are solely used to distinguish the (almost) exact same products, so that when you buy a Red Bull you think “I’m so edgy, not like that lame 5-hour over there”…or something along those lines. (Shh I took a class that doesn’t make me an expert)
As I mentioned earlier, writing is a great outlet when you don’t try to sell yourself too much. And if you do sell a little too much it becomes painfully obvious.
4. Personal branding is clichéd and unoriginal. I hope your writing is not. It’s hard to come up with original ideas all the time. And it’s even more difficult today when bloggers, journalists, and companies publish 24/7. But individuals who are trying to brand themselves and then decide to start blogging are easy to spot. How? Not because the writing is bad, but because it lacks originality.
And, in my opinion, personal branding should be reserved for individuals who quite literally ARE brands (example: Beyoncé, J-Lo, the Biebs and so on). Brands are disconnected from the real world and no matter what any celebrity says, they are too.
I mean have you seen Beyoncé in a swimsuit? If that isn’t disconnected from what I look like in a bikini, then I don’t know what is.
At the end of the day, if you blog, you may want to ask yourself if you truly enjoy the writing process or if you only enjoy the fame that comes along with a like, comment, or new follower. After all, shouldn’t being “you” be enough? If you don’t think so, then read this post by The BrandBuilder Blog which truly inspired me to write this. (Psst it’s written by a real brand expert and he’s saying it’s a no-no, so you know it’s good!) It might just make you throw away the self-branding idea altogether.
Do you think personal branding is overrated and unoriginal? Or has it given you an advantage over other bloggers? Would love to hear your thoughts!
P.S. That post was written over a year ago. Clearly ahead of the times.