I expect some of y’all are curious about the art o’ Personal Brandin’. Step on up to the fire-pit and grab a hot iron, if you think you’re ready. It takes a brave one to do it, but once everybody sees that there emblem on you, the folks’ll flock to you like a flight o’ rabid condors! It’ll only be a few seconds before you pass out from the pain, so come on! Who’s first?
Okay, okay, tempted as I am to finish this whole article in character, I’ll drop the accent and get a tad more serious.
I’ve taken a few tentative steps into the wading end of personal branding and will probably need to try sinking or swimming very soon. Something I’ve been learning is that writers – writers of pretty much anything – need to advertise not only their work, but THEMSELVES. What that essentially means is that they have to find ways to make themselves memorable to their readership.
Mur Lafferty (author of “Heaven” and “Playing for Keeps”) talks about this fairly frequently on her podcast. J.C. Hutchins is doing it all over the place – remember him, by the way? The guy whose Kilroy2.0 character “hacked” this blog and a bunch of others on October 27th to promote the release of “7th Son?” If you do, then he’s evidently getting it right.
I’m still working on it. I really need to get in gear, though, since I may very well have a creative project to promote sometime next year (more on that if and when it comes to fruition). I recently came across an article by the inimitable Miss Destructo that discusses the creation of a personal identity and an accompanying press kit. All I can say is that when the time comes for me to put a press kit together, I’ll be referencing it heavily! It also shows that there are clearly a lot of steps I have yet to take in defining my own “brand.”
But, that said, here’s some of what I’ve done so far. Hopefully it’ll be helpful for someone out there who might just be getting started.
Who is this OtherDoc guy, anyway?
I use the handle “otherdoc” for things like instant messaging services, bulletin boards and various online community sites – basically anywhere that you’re encouraged to go by a cool pseudonym instead of your real name. I’ve been using it ever since the late 90’s, when I needed to give my then-local ISP a user ID. “Doc” was already taken, so I went with “otherdoc” instead – and it stuck. And no, I’m not a real doctor in any sense of the word. The “doc” aspect was a throwback to my fascination with both Doctor Who and Doc Holliday. Merge the two and you get a cantankerous smart-alec trying to use his wits to make the universe a better place – which is kind of how I’d like to describe myself – well, an idealized version of myself, anyway. The “other” aspect, while initially just a way to stand out, has come to represent that sort of “alien” vibe I’m told I tend to give off (if you’ve met me, you probably know what I’m talking about). It also works nicely as a way for my humility to come out and prod me every now and then, reminding me that I’m not necessarily the idealized “Doc” composite to which I aspire – I’m the OTHER “Doc.”
Regardless of its origin, using the same handle wherever I go means that people will hopefully recognize me no matter what site I’m on. If you’re picking a handle out for yourself that you’d like to use in a similar way, choose something that you won’t mind being remembered as because you’ll be stuck with it for a long time.
What’s with the eye?
So, you might have noticed that picture of my left eye that appears on my web site, as album art for this blog’s audio files and on virtually every web site and communication service to which I subscribe that allows the use of a personal icon. Honestly, like my net handle, I stumbled onto the use of that, too. I had a web camera at one time and tried to get silly and artistic with it. That photo, showing my left eye in the light and my right eye in shadow, was probably the best of all the ones I took (which probably gives you a good idea of just how pathetic I am at photography). I’ve used it – or at least the right-most part of it on those occasions when I have to use an icon that’s completely square – as another way people can recognize me. If they won’t always know me by my face, then by thunder they’ll know me by my eye!
In other words, faces can be forgotten, but if you have some kind of logo – even if it’s just an extreme close-up on one particular feature – people are more likely to remember it. Maybe not at first, but if you get it out there enough, they will!
Like I said, these are just a couple of small steps. There’s a lot more for me to do to get where I’ll need to be. In the mean time, I’d be curious to hear what you folks out there in the digital ether have been doing as a way of branding yourselves? What do you do to shout your identity to the world? Don’t be shy – mosey on over to the blog’s comments area and throw down some responses. We’ll keep the fire-pit ready and the irons hot!