Everyone knows about commercial brands.
We have all experienced the way they assault our senses from television, newspapers, the internet and billboards. We instantly recognise brands like Coca Cola, with its images of youth and fun; McDonalds with images of families and fast food, everywhere; and the quality of BMW.
We can easily differentiate between brands of beer, perfume, personal products and toys. We recognise many media and sporting celebrities through the way they have branded themselves, or been branded by others.
Branding is for big companies, big-time personalities and important authors, right?
At the most basic level, branding is a marketing tool. But developing a brand can also be the way a writer, artist or craftsperson can present an integrated image of themselves and their creative work to an audience.
Until recently, I’d hardly given a thought to the possibility of developing my personal brand. Then the Australian Society of Authors offered a day-long workshop for authors (and others) and my ideas changed. It seems that everyone can work to develop an well-rounded image of who they are. There is also a set of ever-evolving media skills which help to project that image.
Last week, a group of authors and bloggers gathered in Perth to find out about ‘Personal Branding’. Western Australian author and consumer psychologist, Glennys Marsdon, facilitated the group as participants came to grips with where our personal ‘brands’ are right now and how we might rethink who and what we are as writers, and how to present an integrated image on social media and elsewhere.
Glennys has worked on numerous major Australian branding campaigns. She has three books and many impressive credits to her name, including Telstra Business Women’s Award 2012 nominee. She blogs regularly at The Ponder Room. She brought a wealth of experience in branding and in writing to the day, and but also the skill and a certain gentleness that encouraged all participants to share their knowledge and ideas in truly interactive ways.
Reflecting on the day, one word that springs immediately to my mind is generosity, not only of the facilitator, but also of the participants as we discussed image and branding, and much else as well. I loved the ideas and encouragement that flowed freely.
However, one confronting moment, for me at any rate, was when Glennys told of us about a challenge she had set herself in preparation for the workshop. She had set out to find out about each of the participants on the internet, ‘using three seconds and two clicks’. In the workshop, she projected images of what she’d discovered about each of us, given her three-and-two Google search method.
The image she showed of my social media presence was a still shot of my most recent blog, a book review, which I had posted earlier in the week. As we went through that particular exercise it became immediately obvious how I could improve the first impressions of me that a casual seeker might find on the internet.
From there, we went on to explore our core values, which led to asking ourselves, ‘What is that I want to be known for?’
The day was packed with information, practical advice and encouragement.
At the end, I came away with
- an awareness that I’d experienced both personal growth and professional development;
- a clear understanding about the need for integration as person and as a writer;
- new energy and enthusiasm generated by working with an expert facilitator and a group of like-minded people;
- many good ideas;
- a working-model for a brand I want to refine and pursue; and
- a caution from Glennys that this process, done well, will take time.
I look forward to working towards a creative solution to the development of a personal brand that reflects who I am and how my work reflects that image.
Thank you to the Australian Society of Authors for sponsoring the event, to Glennys for her wisdom, and to fellow participants for good company, a wealth of generous sharing.
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