I have a Facebook page and a website. I sometimes keep people informed about what I’m doing. I have thought about my color scheme. I have asked for marketing advice. Yes, there is a whiff of “brand” here.
But I am not actually a brand.
I don’t Tweet. Occasionally I blog—about a lot of different things.
What I do is talk to my friends and family, face to face or via email, with great uncertainty about what’s happening (or not happening) with publishing my books.
I have zero sound bites memorized. I have zero thirty-second elevator speeches. I have zero media training. And when people ask me about my books, I have zero clue what to say.
Because I’m not a brand.
There are no coffee cups with the titles of my books on them, no t-shirts, no key chains, no beach towels. No one is going to associate my name with something you’d find in a swag bag—yet. And if ever there was a coffee cup with my name on it, it’s just a coffee cup…with my name on it.
I don’t have a team or an entourage, a glam squad or a publicist. I don’t have a perfume or a line of bottled water. No one is paying me to wear their clothes and vice versa. I don’t have an acceptance speech prepared. I don’t have to thank the divine in public. I never, ever want to be on the cover of a magazine that uses candy-colored lettering to announce something scurrilous about me, and then go check out my sales report to see if anything has changed.
Because I’m not a brand.
I don’t wake up in the morning and make sure that everything I say, do, wear, or think is in line with Me—the capital-letter Me that wears make-up at all times and knows my good side in photos and has a winning smile and hands out business cards at every opportunity.
And I have actually never followed the advice of anyone who talks about me or my writing in terms of “my brand.” Perhaps I am short-changing myself; perhaps I’m not. Perhaps every marketing and PR person I know is getting ready to string me up by the ankles.
But I don’t care. Why? Because I am not a brand.
I’m a writer. And foremost, a human being.
And when did we, as a species—the bundles of radiant atomic energy that each of us are, totally unique from each other in form and character, but all intrinsically connected at our deepest level—agree to not only aspire to, but make sure that our passions and ourselves embody the kind of contrived, cereal-boxed, professional-logoed, air-brushed identities with which companies use to boost profits?
This is not who we are.
Business is business, yes. Marketing is a practical function, of course. Everyone wants to look good in pictures. And I want people to read my stuff.
But I—as a creative individual—am not a brand, and neither are you.
Remember that the next time you read a book (watch a movie, listen to a song, gaze upon a painting), simply because it speaks to your soul in that elusive yet insistent language of which no packaging, tagline, or story board can ever capture. I promise you: it’s not “the brand” doing the talking…