Ruminations on “You are Your Brand”

The following guest post was written by Stephen Da Cambra.

If you are at all familiar with The Van Blog, you will know that Steven has many insights into branding. The opening paragraph of his recent blog 4 Simple Ways to Grow Your Brand echoes one of the first things he said to me about branding:

“You are your brand. Your brand is you. Wherever your go, there is your brand. Every action you take, every word you speak, every impression you leave, affects how others view your brand.”

I look for real world examples to help me better understand new concepts – even those as straight forward as Steven’s .

For whatever reason, the first thing that came to mind was the negative feeling I had when I heard that Nike knowingly used sweatshop labor (I sometimes feel alone in that reaction when I see the plethora of swoosh-clad athletes and celebrities.) Some of you may be more familiar with the recent images of young children being led from a factory that produces clothing for The Gap. Steven talks more about personal brands than these global icons, but I think the concept still applies. Even the big fish need to be concerned about how every action they take reflects upon their brand.

In looking at personal brands, I should engage you, the reader, but critiquing other brands might cost me readers. So let’s look at my brand, such that it is. While Steven’s blog touches on developing your online profile and forging links, I think the concept easily applies to smaller, seemingly mundane actions. Among other things, I write weekly blog entries for the Invesp Blog. When asked for a photo to go with the blog, I didn’t think too much about it and sent the first decent ;) shot I found – one of me wearing a tie. I wish I had the branding conversation with Steven before I submitted the photo. The image does not fit with my brand. Even when it was shot a couple years ago, I didn’t wear ties and only did so in the photo to make readers think our company was larger and more corporate than it was – so the tie suited the company’s brand, but not mine. In the blogosphere, that photo might as well be my logo and it should better reflect my brand. (I might keep the tie shot, if only to stand out in the sea of tee-shirts and turtlenecks I see in other blogger’s photos!)

Steven’s blog talks about building strong profiles on social media. He refers mainly to sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and Technorati. While most of us probably do not consider YouTube in the same vein as Digg, I’m a bit of a YT addict and, since I began thinking about Steven’s concepts, I’ve become fascinated by some of the personal brands there. In light of the idea that “you are your brand”, I’m even more fascinated by the major personal brands that can’t seem to get traction on YouTube. Oprah recently launched a YT channel to the general disdain of the tuberati. P. Diddy has 68 subscribers (my son’s Lego animation channel has 125) and, while Paris Hilton has over 16,000, hundreds of others, who are entirely ordinary citizens outside of YouTube, eclipse that number. Conversely, an Avril Lavigne video is the second most watched ever on YT. What is it about the Paris, Puffy and Oprah brands that cause friction on YT, while Avril flourishes?

I’m right into this personal branding thing now!!

Thanks, Steven, for a valuable lesson learned and the privilege of writing a guest post for The Van Blog.

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