Thinking back to our “digital footprint” week I have learned that, like it or not, my “brand” or persona has a digitally created life of its own and that I allow others to manage it at my own peril. Now, I have known about branding for some time. We are all aware of the insidious nature of logos (Naomi Klein, No Logo) and these are just the most obvious faces of branding… In a more specific sense, visual recognition of an image created by piles of money on marketing and advertising. Nike doesn’t make shoes, someone in a developing nation does that, Nike sells Nike as a lifestyle image or at least used to (Naomi Klein as previously cited).
I have had the idea of branding myself in the back of my head for some time. I have even created embryonic websites for this purpose along with a business plan I played around with for a little while. Now though, I have a much better understanding of what this entails and a more advanced skill set with which to proceed. If there is an essence to the brand I am trying to create, it would be creativity, ability and enthusiasm. I want my love of creating, sharing and learning to be what beams out from my tweets, posts, links and creations, wherever they be found. I suppose my COETAIL blog is the best example of my commitment to continual professional development. I now also have a job search site that further exemplifies who I am and what I’ve done. Good old Twitter rounds it off. I may have only fifteen followers now but once I get the time to spend commenting on a wider variety of other bloggers offerings I am confident I can increase that.
For an excellent introduction to personal branding you need look no further than Dan Schawbel’s Mashable post, Personal Branding 101 (Though he doesn’t make it easy to cut/paste his name given that all references to himself are links). As he, correctly, states:
…transparency and authenticity are the only means to survive and thrive in this new digital kingdom… [and] …Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves to others. As a brand, we can leverage the same strategies that make these celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others. We can build brand equity just like them.
He goes further still suggesting, “Social media tools have leveled the playing ground and have enabled us to reach incredible heights, at the cost of our time.” To me this here is the thing. We brand ourselves as well as we can with the know-how we have gained. Of course, this know-how itself is a function of the time we spend searching for, digesting, using before then promoting ourselves with it. To put a positive spin on it, however, it seems to me that branding (a fancy word for promoting) will and should always be a work in progress as we, ourselves should be.
Jeff Utecht’s blog post, Creating Your Personal Brand, highlighted designing one’s website with the audience in mind, an idea which was then further clarified by one of the presenters at the conference that inspired it, in that a website should try to capture the attention of anyone coming across it. Different approaches to doing so were also discussed. Jeff makes the point that he is reconsidering some of the images attached to his own brand presently due to what he feels is a “logo/brand disconnect.” Keeping this in mind I will do my best to try and focus on components that are more timeless and likely to attract the sort of attention I hope for.
I did not wish to put it as a comment on his blog but those of you working with Jeff might want to point out the typos I came across: “website that was tailor make” and “the different between.”
I am seriously running the risk of writing another literature study here so I will change tack a little now and offer further musings. Branding appears to fast becoming a part of life for educators. The readings supplied this week offer much to consider. I have, in fact bookmarked them in my new BRANDED folder to follow up when time allows. As I write it strikes me that (as alluded to above?) the level at which I have been empowered to create the content I wish to share is quickly consuming time I need to spend “getting it out there!” No complaints, the rush of creation and sharing has me. I have not only created a job search website, complete with a screencast of how to get the most out of it. Frankly, I believe it to be immensely intuitive and easy to use but could not resist the opportunity to further brand my skills by producing the screencast.
I am presently in the froth of a job search so have been burning the midnight oil producing tools in order to have more to brand. I’ve made a Moodle demonstrating how I can administer a course management system and host it on my own domain and collaboratively created an online resource with Brendan Lea from the course as an Acceptable Usage Agreement Teacher Assistant to further try and get myself out there.
So, to reiterate, my brand is me and what I can do for your school. I stand for being up on the latest trends and having the organization and know-how to help your school integrate in meaningful ways, across the curriculum. (Did I mention my website?) I reflect my personal brand in a variety of networking technologies such as Linkedin, Twitter, my blog (no need for a link here methinks), old-fashioned face-to-face conversations and, well, please comment with my next outlet.