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“What is your brand?”

“You need to define your brand.”

When I first heard about the pressing need to define one’s brand two years ago at the Type-A Parent conference in Atlanta, I pushed the concept aside. I wasn’t interested in monetizing my blog, would never seek paid advertisements, didn’t want any junk on my sidebar interfering with my aesthetic. (That I say that is laughable, as if I’m some great graphic artist.)

Moreover, I resisted writing in a niche, which I presumed was the prerequisite of effective branding. Was I an old mommy blogger, an angry feminist, a deaf person? Or all of the above? I wanted to be niche-less. I wanted to write about whatever I felt like writing about without thinking I had an obligation to some brand. “Oh my God, what is that old mommy blogger doing writing about Donald Trump?”

So I meandered around, not worrying about branding, just doing my thing. And after a while, I started thinking that my thing or things, as it were, had gradually become my brand. And then I realized that my brand was something to nurture and develop. It surprised me that the whole notion of having a brand no longer felt foreign or contrived. It didn’t seem like acting or pretending.

The biggest surprise was that the brand for my blog, Red’s Wrap, was me.

The beauty of this is that writing my blog has helped me define myself during periods of great difficulty and transition. In the manner of Joan Didion’s famous comment, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down,” blogging settled me when my thoughts were chaotic and disabling. I would try to do what Hemingway recommended: “Just write one true sentence.” And often that gave way to writing many true sentences that revealed to me who I was at that moment. Not who I wished I could be or wanted others to believe I was, not a construction or fiction, just the realest truest me. Writing my blog revealed to me who I really was as a person.

And it is that exercise, even more than the result, that I consider to be my brand.

When people take the time to read my blog, I want to deliver content that is true to my brand. It makes me think twice about what I write, puts some things out of bounds, brings others surprisingly in bounds. Having a sense of brand makes me careful but it also makes me brave.

When I read others’ blogs, I can tell which bloggers have developed their brand (knowingly or not). They have a confidence and comfort with themselves that is obvious and attractive. It’s as if they are saying “stay with me, I know what I’m doing.”

How do you get to the place where you recognize and embrace your brand?

Just write one true sentence and go from there.

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The Daily Post: Voice