“BE YOUR OWN BRAND, YOU ARE YOUR BRAND” – It’s a slogan that is drilled into aspiring entrepreneurs from day one, if people fall in love with you, your personality, your life and your wardrobe, they will fall in love with your brand. But the truth of the matter is being your own brand ambassador 24/7 is exhausting, and sometimes it’s boring. The other day I suddenly panicked because my gingery-brown hair doesn’t fit in with the super colourful and borderline kawaii aesthetic of my online shop. I also wondered whether my crummy old laptop was ‘vaporwave’ enough and whether my uni notebooks were ‘Instagram-able.’
Having opinions entitles you to air them – no matter how offensive or inane they are – online… But when personal branding is involved, your personal opinions could put off customers and cost you business. I once (stupidly) posted an Etsy thread asking ‘Is my shop name (BabeBible) offensive?’… I had forgotten that Etsy’s main users are mid-western American soccer moms who go to church every sunday and dress their newborn babies up in handmade felt pumpkin hats. The onslaught went on for days, but at least the views of my shop quadrupled into the thousands.
But personal branding is a necessary part of 21st century business – people are as swayed and fascinated by the individual than their wares (sometimes even more.) Consider the many businesses selling pom-pom earrings (long chains with marabou or wool pompoms hanging on the ends), many bloggers, brands and individuals that I follow on Instagram are selling the exact same item, but all to their particular market of fans. Fans, followers – or whatever your preferred terminology – buy because they want to imitate and embody the person they are buying from – and it works! When the only aspect of an individual that you can see and interact with is online, the best you can do is imitate their outward appearance: something easily achieved through clothing and accessories.
The idea of embodying your brand is also a fantastic thing: when your brand is what you live for, why wouldn’t you want to reflect that? But sometimes social media should be more personal than social. When you start seeing Facebook friends not as old classmates and acquaintances, but potential customers, and don’t want to post silly candid pictures of your friends on your Instagram feed because you don’t want to corrupt the aesthetic, the personal has become the branded.
Have aspiring entrepreneurs any hope for remarkably normal social media feeds, or will we forever be forced to make our personal lives seem as exciting as our business lives? I am not sure… Personally I hope I can find a balance between marketing my brand on social media, and not becoming someone who aspires to be “insta-famous.”
I'm Lou, a business owner living in Newcastle. I founded the curated fashion marketplace for Vintage and Preloved, TrendListr.com. Can I count 'cats' as an interest/passion? Because they definitely should be.