I recently wrote about the difficulties of finding a name; for your self, your online projects or even your business venture. Following on, I wanted to discuss one of the aspects I found hardest about working as a freelance creative, namely building a brand, and how extremely limiting that can be.
Most books like ‘Brand You‘ are all about focus. They give advice on creating the perfect elevator pitch , and recommend you consider what ‘archetypes‘ you evoke, choosing one (or two, tops) to consistently project. Good advice? Maybe, but when you are self-employed relying on a diverse portfolio of small income avenues, not all of which are at the same level of prestige or financial value, this advice feels impossible to implement. Not to mention the persona you might want to adopt as an Artist, might be at odds with your commercial craft design business. But you want one to support the other, ideally.
It’s both my strength and my weakness that I wear more than one hat. So I struggled to describe my ‘business’ offering digital illustration, article and pattern writing, product photography, project design management and production, social media content, and Fine Art for exhibition. ‘Designer Maker’ was almost it. Others called me ‘Textile Artist’, yet the majority of my skills were digital. It felt wrong. I wasn’t trained in textiles, it was just another medium I could draw with, that technology allowed me to print my drawings on. I felt constantly mislabeled, until I no longer knew what I was…(but that’s another story).
Fast forward to this blog now, and my occasional efforts to define it. I want it to be personal, not limited by labels. Countering branding’s advice to focus, Brian Eno wrote this ‘New Oblique Strategy’ in a ‘Year With Swollen Appendices‘: “List everything that you are“. Which inspired my sometime tagline for Geen Geenie: writer, reader, art-eater, feminist, photophile, freak. I also envisioned filling my blog side bar with descriptors like – human, female, bachelor of the arts, kid sister, faraway friend, faded crush, secret singer, walker, talker, online stalker, but as you can see my urge to rhyme is strong , and I can’t stop it from veering into silly.
Does it help bring any clarity to my sense of identity as an artist or a blogger ? IDK but it sure is a fun exercise for reclaiming yourself as multifaceted and not fractured, and helps you to see the integrated whole. Recently, instead of trying to list my blog’s topics I updated my tag line to ‘ Style and Substance: writing about arts & culture and mental health‘. It sounds a bit grand, but I think it genuinely covers my interests, from comics and literature to art, music, videos and the psychological aspect of memoir. What do you think?
Is brand identity something you’ve struggled with ? Or do you know exactly what you are about? Maybe like me, you feel often resigned to the wrong pigeon-hole? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings on branding and online identity in the comments below.