Olivier Blanchard ran a dynamite post a few weeks back titled, “R.I.P. Personal Branding.”
This well thought out piece and the point counterpoint nature of the comments caused me to think about the term, “personal branding” and the individual as an online persona. Authentic blogger versus contrived bit player. I concur with many of Olivier’s points and I agree with some of the countering commenters.
The post is certainly thought-provoking. Great stuff if you haven’t checked it out. And the commenting was prolific. Oh, how I love blogging.
His core message is that people are people, not brands. And there is no merit in turning yourself into a character or product. Unless you’re a cultural icon or you name rhymes with Okra, you’re really better off just being yourself.
The message that really resonated with me was this: “… this is especially relevant in the era of social communications and the scaling of social networks – is there really any value to turning yourself into a character or a product instead of just being… well, who you are?”
First let me clarify.
This post won’t be about my hatred for the term personal branding. In all honesty, I could take it or leave it. I’m more focused on the importance and power of authenticity.
I agree with many of his points, but I often think arguments like this are simply a matter of semantics, bringing on a lot of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. And I’m not so sure I want to get bogged down arguing about the interpretation of the term, personal branding anyway.
If someone wants to stamp their online presence with the brand label, that’s okay. Personal Branding is the de facto term and it’s not going to change anytime soon.
My focus is on the importance of being genuine online.
YOU create a name for yourself by solving problems and providing something that is worthwhile and meaningful, right? Reassure me here folks. A few comments into this and I might fold like a cheap lawn chair.
Again, my point really has little to do with the meaning of the term. It has everything to do with you just being you.
People who value authenticity don’t want to deal with someone playing a part. They can sniff out the insincerity, which makes things distorted and fuzzy. They don’t like fuzzy. “They” being most people.
Seeking recognition by role playing or shouting is downright exhausting and maintaining that persona can be a pretty tough chore.
Can pretenders deliver excellence? Maybe so, but I often wonder how long they can keep it up.
Do fakes facilitate meaningful change? Well, what do you think?
We can never be 100 percent transparent and people do tend to embellish, but there’s no problem there, we ALL do it. You can certainly kick it up a notch and still be you. That’s fine. Just don’t bullshit us.
Don’t you think someone is more interesting and has more to offer when they are genuine instead of playing a role?
And again, how much energy is squandered pretending to be something or someone else? All that work detracts from doing the things that matter.
Just be yourself and “do.” The rest will come.
If you are so focused on creating a contrived persona, you’re not only misleading people who read you, you’re deceiving yourself. Being the authentic you and embracing your uniqueness is certainly the better route. And I honestly think playing a role just might just come back to haunt you.
We want you.
Those little quirks and personality traits that you see as flaws in the machine; Well that’s what makes you interesting to others.
I often write about personal growth through practices like embracing uncertainty, incorporating creativity in your daily routine, and just learning to be comfortable in your own skin. These things don’t come about by playing a part.
Before any big changes happen you need to learn to accept yourself.
If you think you’re a little weird, well that’s great. That crazy, perfect little you simply rocks. Plus, haven’t you heard that weird is in?
If you think you’re too quiet. Well, let me tell you something. Introverts rock and they simply roll in the blogosphere. This place was setup for quiet types.
If you’re opinionated, even better. Write and see what happens.
If you’re a wee bit caustic. Well, that’s okay too. We can all be at times. Plus a little snark goes a long way in these here parts.
AND if you think you’re a little bonkers, generally quiet, opinionated every so often, and snarky as hell, that’s even better. That’s called being human and that’s what we love about you. Just check off “all of the above,” accept your humanity and get on with it. Or better yet, blog like a rock star. Just don’t let that rock star status go to your head.
Also, what about the long-term? Who knows how long this social media blip will last. Who knows where we’ll be many iterations down the road. The constantly evolving model is here today, and so gone tomorrow.
Those who can go beyond the screen and think less like a play-actor, but more like a real person with real connections, are the individuals who will have some staying power.
Do what you love. Be yourself. Put in the work.
Let the ego go and see what happens.
Trying to game the system is not a long-term solution. And whatever you do, don’t try to be someone else.
And like Olivier said, “talk less, do more.”
What is your take on the term, “personal branding?”
Are there exceptions to the rule of being genuine online?
Do you agree or disagree with me on the power of authenticity?