Branding is pretty scary, we know
We get it: the idea of personal branding can be really uncomfortable and strange. After all, you’re not a commodity, you’re a person. For many of us, the idea of putting ourselves forward feels immodest and maybe even terrifying--and it’s even more challenging for those who are POC, women, or from marginalized communities.
But if you make money from the creative work you do--whether it's illustrations, podcasts, writing, or music--you need a personal brand to help you.
Why is personal branding important?
Back in 1999, the New Yorker interviewed Kevin Liles, who was president of Def Jam at the time, about a new rapper he'd signed called Lady Luck. He was explaining what made Lady Luck stand out from the other female rappers at the time:
“When you think about Eve,” Liles explained to me, “if Eve’s man was in a gunfight and he got shot, she would pick up his gun and start shooting at the other guy. L’il Kim would fuck that other man. Rah Digga would stab that other man. Luck would have a great time with that man, and then hit him in the head with a bat. So all of them have their own special qualities.”
What Liles did was just give a very quick lesson on personal brands and how they can help you distinguish yourself from everyone else. What a personal brand does is make you and your work memorable to people, and not just that, it helps them understand what they can expect from you in terms of quality, content, and even quantity.
What people get wrong about personal branding
When you ask people what their personal brand is, they'll often say things like "musician" or "illustrator of pretty things" or "horror fiction writer". This is wrong because a personal brand isn't a list of things that you can do or labels about you, a personal brand is a narrative. It's a story that you tell about yourself that helps people understand and appreciate what you're capable of.
Some people think that personal brands are fake personas or a "curated impression" of you that only shows one aspect of yourself that isn't authentic. That's not personal branding either, that's deception. A personal brand is about putting your best self forward, it's true, but it's about lying. Showing the best part of yourself doesn't mean you censor the rest of who you are because often, our weaknesses and failures are part of what makes us great.
So what can personal branding do?
Personal branding means uncovering your personal narrative to make sure that you build the right relationships with the people who will support you and your work. People love narratives--that's why gossip sites are so popular, after all--and by having a narrative that people will relate to and connect with, you'll be able to find the right supporters who will love you and your work.
Personal brands are also the foundation of a good marketing strategy. After all, how can you plan out a marketing strategy if you don't know exactly what your brand is? With a solid personal brand, you won't just be promoting one thing, you'll also be creating a strong impression of the kind of work people can expect from you in the future.
If you don’t have a clear idea of your personal brand, you can download our free personal branding guide for artists and writers below. You can also contact us for a free 15-minute consultation if you’ve got specific marketing-related questions.
Personal Branding Basics Guide
A practical and informative guide that explains the importance of personal branding for artists, writers, and other creative entrepreneurs, with a step-by-step process to uncover your personal brand! Sign up with your name and email to download it right away!