We need to talk about the emotional experience of branding yourself as a creative, y’all.
It’s one of the most popular topics in all the writer’s groups I’m in.
Every few days it comes up again:
“Why is branding myself so hard?”
“Why does it take so long?”
“Whenever I have a good idea, someone points out it’s bad, and I immediately deflate!”
That last one is especially huge.
You probably know the feeling.
You have an idea that’s SO GOOOD that you think over for days and get more and more excited. It works in so many ways! There are so many different ideas you could plug into it. It’s so smart and pithy and and and —
Then you show it to someone and… they promptly riddle it with holes.
So you cry a lot and go back to the drawing board.
Ugh. It’s my Achilles heel too!
But can I tell you a secret?
This is also why when I know in my gut something’s good-but-different, I sometimes don’t tell anyone until I put it all out there so it makes sense in context.
The title of “The Wordshops”? I didn’t tell anyone for a year.
Photo shoot concepts? Silencio.
Structure for my Wordshops sales video? The only people who knew about it were me and my videographer.
Blog posts? It’s just me and Medium.
Because imagine if Picasso showed his first attempts at cubism to a fellow artist who said:
“That’s so ugly. I don’t get it. No one will like or buy this. Where’s the poetry? Where’s the feeling?!”
I suspect we’re not actually all BAD at branding ourselves as pro creatives. It’s just hard to define ourselves without the protective layer of someone else to take on the consequences for whatever we come up with.
Here’s a truth to chew over: Everyone’s a critic and folks won’t always get it.
After all: Why do we always tell clients not to show the final product to 50+ people before launch? Because there’s such a thing as “too many cooks in the kitchen”.
(And no offense, but your Aunt Barbara who told you your logo was dumb doesn’t know the first thing about branding.)
There were, are, and will be moments when you’ve gotta trust what’s right.
That’s what personal branding as a creative and artist is overall, in my opinion. An exercise in deep self trust.
Prepare to do what you want that feels good and right, develop a stomach for the potential range of responses, and you’re good to go.
Sure you’ll fail sometimes, but the wins will be THE WINNIEST.
All this to say: I love other people’s opinions, but sometimes?
Screw other people’s opinions.
Your personal brand is PERSONAL. Play around. Break rules. Rattle cages.
Experiment and see what works without letting someone else in on it too soon.
See what happens.
Photo by Cory Woodward