I’ve gotten this bug in my head lately about branding, and it’s been buzzing around annoying me for a while now.

On the one hand, I understand the concept, on the other hand it bothers me – sort of like an itty bitty piece of a splinter that broke off, and is still stuck under your skin.

I know as bloggers we’re all focused on attracting more readers and subscribers to expand our network. And, that at the same we’re doing this we’re also supposed to be building a persona, or “personal brand” online.

When I look up the meaning of brand in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary it reads:

a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer

It also classifies this definition as a noun – which is a “thing.” I guess this is where I’m having a problem with this whole being a brand idea. I don’t want to be a “thing,” in-fact, I find it quite objectionable.

How can a person be a brand  – which is a thing?

I know we bloggers all bandy the term about, and I too have used it, but deep down I must confess, I’m not comfortable with it.

When I think of the word, “brand,” visions of Andy Warhol‘s, “Campbell Soup” paintings come to mind, or his iconic paintings of Marilyn Monroe. It makes me wonder, am I a brand, and more importantly, do I want to be a “brand?”

Campbell’s Soups are definitely a brand. When we buy the soup the recipe is consistent, we know what to expect and how it’s going to taste. We equate the steaming bowls of soup with warmth, and comfort and of being served by a mother who loved us. The Campbell’s Soups’ brand is about conveying that warm and fuzzy feeling inside. The brand communicates safety, home and family. I understand this and I’m fine with it when it comes to Campbell’s Soups.

It’s the famous Warhol painting of Marilyn Monroe that gets me a bit queezy, and that’s where my hesitation come in. The painting was specifically created to portray that Marilyn Monroe had become a mass marketed brand. She’s painted in unnatural colors to show that she’s an icon, and interchangeable with a label, or logo. She is no longer a real person, but an object. The message of the famous portraits directs us to infuse our own feelings and desires into the object of Marilyn who then becomes whatever we need her to be; a sex symbol, an ingenue, a vixen, an exploited woman sold like a commodity. Warhol’s paintings of her capture all of this.

I feel bad thinking how Monroe was manufactured, packaged and sold to us like one of Campbell’s Soups. Which brings be back again to ponder; Am I a brand? And, do I want to be one?

A brand – let’s set the record straight is a “thing.” A thing like Marilyn who was packaged and sold. Do I want to be a “thing?” Do you want to be a “thing?” I don’t know about you, but I don’t. I understand the concept behind being a personal brand. You want your online persona to communicate a certain consistency in what you produce that your readers will grow to expect. I get it.

Maybe I’m just hung up on the word, and not the concept? Maybe what’s happening is that my disdain for the commercialization of every aspect of our culture is bleeding into this whole conversation? I wonder, is there not one area of life that is off limits to commercialization? Are we to willingly accept that every aspect of life can be reduced to sales transaction? I want my life to be more than that.

I prefer instead to think that we’re not brands – but communicating our values. What’s your core value; making a difference, inspiring people, freedom from being a wage earner? I think that’s what we’re communicating. When I reframe “brand” in the context of communicating my core values in my blog – I feel much more comfortable about it.

Yesterday, after completing this post I read an excellent article about personal branding by Scott Dinsmore, of Reading for Your Success. He’d written it as a guest post for Cori Padgett’s, Big Girl Branding. It was excellent and I highly recommend you read the guest post, and both their blogs regularly. It also made me feel a whole lot better about this “branding” thing. But, I still object to the terminology. It doesn’t feel right to me.

So, I’ve decided to use another phrase, a non-commercialized one – and for me less disturbing. From now on I’m communicating what I stand for, in other words my values.

One of the things I value most is the transformational power of intuition, and how developing it opens your mind to a larger reality. I’m about teaching people to develop and incorporate intuition into their lives, to help them make better decisions about what’s important to them, and to therefor live better, happier, and more successful lives.

If I do nice things for people, which I routinely do, I’ll not say that’s part of my “brand” and the consistent experience you can count on when you interact with me. I don’t want everything I do to be reduced to a transaction that upholds my “brand.” I’m not doing nice things on purpose to create a brand……I’m just being nice, because I’m nice! And, I can’t help but be nice!

My new stance is this: I’m communicating my value to you by sharing my expertise in developing and using intuition to live a better life, but I’m not a brand!

How about you – are you a brand? How do you feel about the term, “personal branding” and the concept of personal commoditization? Do you think every aspect of life should have commercial value?

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