Authenticity and the Personal Brand

Authenticity and the Personal Brand

In this digital world, there is a lot of talk about developing a “personal brand”.  I have no problem with this if your job has your name (like “Dionne Design”). Perhaps you are a photographer or a writer, interior designer. If you’ve melded your personal name to your profession than its important for that brand, the business brand, to mean something.

What I object to is the notion that each individual who has a web presence has a responsibility to, as one how-to article suggests “market your personality” or “network all the time” How horrid. One Forbes article suggests that “a strong personal brand can yield tremendous ROI whether you are working with an organization or leading one. ” Suggesting that a person invest in crafting an online persona in order to get a return on investment is crass.

Rant over and back to the notion of developing a brand for your business which happens to carry your name. The key is to always be yourself.  Incorporate things that matter to you into how you present yourself online.  Here are four tips:

Look to the past

The header above is a pile of logs.  Nevermind the fact that anything woodsy and outdoorsy is popular these days, this log pile reminded me of my past.  Where I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we heated our house with wood so going into the woods to cut down trees was an integral aspect of my formative years, whether I liked it or not.  This is the sort of imagery which I could, if I chose to, incorporate into my business brand or name.


Look to literature

I once read the term “the saddest pleasure” in reference to travel, falling in love with a place only to leave again, the toll that is taken by constantly saying goodbye.  As I had spent several years of my life traveling, the phrase resonated with me and became a bit of a mantra/life philosophy.  This literary expression has followed me around in the form of screen names and email addresses for the past 20 years and I recently realized that people knew me by that name, thesaddestpleasure.  It had become my brand.

Trust your instincts

I’m a ridiculous Instagrammer.  I admit it! By this I mean that I’m ruthless about making sure each picture is 100% me.  It’s not that I’m afraid of ruining my “brand” but that I just want to always present my most authentic face to the world.  If a photo is inauthentic in any way, I don’t post it. If you have to think too hard about it, it’s probably not you.

Consistency does not mean a rut

Consistency in branding, whether on Instagram, Facebook, your website, or in print is important to your brand.  That doesn’t mean that you only use one set of imagery or font for all time but that your brand should be recognizable to your audience.  Perhaps your brand focuses on a lot of white space and tableaus of flowers and books; it would feel jarring to your audience if you suddenly posted a photo in primary colors.  Good examples of consistent branding are Danse de Lune and Yeah! Rentals, each very different but both consistent.

Consistency also links back to authenticity: If you from the beginning choose a name and imagery that are “you”, it will be easy to remain consistent and your brand will remain solid.


PS: This is my first article in the new “marketing” category. I don’t consider myself a marketing expert, however, I do feel that I have a knack for it and am ever-conscious of it for my personal business as well as the organization for which I work as Communications Manager. I don’t know as if there will be other marketing articles here but, regardless, it belonged in this category.


May 11, 2015 11:37 am

I found this very helpful! I am trying to build my business and this helped me think more about my “look” or online presence. Thanks!

sarah sullivan
May 11, 2015 11:46 am

Thank you, Devin! Little things make a difference but you have a good eye and instinct for these things I think!

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