here’s a problem with the future of work: we’re all brands now. at least on social media, i think about my brand and how i present myself in the same way i think about business marketing. sometimes when i am advising clients, they ask me how to brand themselves properly on the internet.
this makes me think about my favorite people online – some of the folks that i love the most are authentic. this means that their content feels personal, and i feel a special connection because they are being genuine with the amount of personal and professional content that they can comfortably share online.
authentic doesn’t mean constantly available. i follow an instagram account in which an unseen user makes bubble tea against a white background. this user is more or less anonymous, and i don’t have any kind of emotional dialogue with this person, but the interaction still feels authentic: “here is something i like that i am comfortable sharing with you”.
i get sad – a lot. sometimes it is very difficult to manage, and for a while it was difficult to maintain an internet presence when i had intense, intermittent sadness. in order to be transparent with my engagement online, sometimes i’ll just let people know that i am sad. it gives some context as to my online habits, and it has become part of my brand. “connor is professional and creative, and sometimes he is very sad.”
a brand communicates to your audience “here’s what you can expect from me”. so, why make a brand that is too expansive for what you can give? for companies, branding connects products to specific people
“if you are x type of person, you might be into product y.” since we all engage in mini-forms of sharing on the internet, clarifying your brand can help manage expectations from the people you share with.
ultimately, we are human beings, not brands. however, when we step out into the world, we are always communicating – what we wear, how we carry ourselves, where we spend our time – all of this communicates something about our values and alignments. being on the internet, in a sense, is a form of being out in the world. and if we choose to participate, we can be focused about the way we style and brand our presence.
further, as human beings, we also have the capacity to grow. your brand is not a cage – if anything, it should help you move from one goal to the next. if you need to change your brand, you can (and should). of course, you have no obligation to change, or to explain your change to anyone. being online (being a human) is hard, and finding your truth and your level of comfort with being authentic online allows you to gracefully mediate your inner and outer lives.