What is My Brand Personality as a Writer?
Maybe it’s the existential tidal wave of COVID-19, maybe it’s just creative growing pains, but I’ve been asking myself–and my writing–lots of deep questions lately.
And I’ve decided that one of the big obstacles in moving forward as a writer is that I don’t really know myself as a writer.
In other words, I don’t have cohesive, big-picture sense of what actually drives me to write, what makes my writing tick, what purpose my writing serves or seeks to serve, and what the red thread is when writing in different contexts or formats.
I can answer these questions in regards to isolated pieces of writing–books or individual blog posts–but it is significantly more difficult to do so for my body of work as a whole.
To put this dilemma in marketing language, I’m struggling to identify the brand personality of my writing, or rather of myself as a writer.
Brand Personalities: The Basics
I first learned about brand personalities several years ago at an Editors Canada seminar. Although a marketing concept, brand personality–with some creativity and adaptation–could be a useful tool for writers trying to build their platforms. (A big authority on this subject is Kaye Putnam, whose site has a free quiz and a number of helpful infographics and other resources, although it may be difficult to apply the highly visual principles of brand personality to writing platforms.)
The idea is that there are each professional brand emulates one of 12 brand personalities.
These 12 brand personalities derive from Jungian archetypes:
Identifying the personality that best reflects your brand helps guide communications and marketing strategy over time. It also gives you more insight into your strengths, your limitations, and the approaches that are likely to connect better with your audiences.
Likewise, being unaware of your brand’s personality can lead to
- inconsistent marking;
- mismatched or unevenly expressed priorities;
- conflicting messaging or advertising approaches over time;
- a sense of “multiple personality disorder” in the way people encounter your central message as a company or organization;
- chameleon syndrome, where the brand simply imitates its competitors, because its promoters do not have a clear or well articulated vision its core personality.
Brand Personality and Writing
While brand personality is most often applied to organizations, companies, and lifestyle brands, I’ve been trying to apply it to writing–and my writing in particular–to better understand the different kinds of writers out there, how I fit in to the landscape of authors, and how this boils down into the types of topics and approaches to topics I’m most well suited for as a writer.
Why do I find this useful information? Because there are so many decisions to make in this writerly life, and I need help limiting and guiding those decisions. Because I get too many ideas of things to write about that I need some kind of framework to help me narrow down what I am uniquely skilled to write about, and what I need to leave for another author out there. Because I have a hard time framing my limits as a writer in terms of strengths.
Because I find it difficult to discern where I end and where others begin.
And because all of these questions make it really difficul to write consistently, both in a quantitative (how often I write/publish) and qualitative (what form/mood/voice/approach my writing takes) sense.
No sooner do I listen to a podcast by a beloved self-improvement gury than I feel the need to publish a super-savvy “7 Easy Ways to…” blog post. I come across a well articulated cultural criticism and it suddenly occurs to me that I need to be a cultural critic on my blog, too. I make a joke in a piece of writing, then read someone else’s essay I respect that is very serious and wonder if maybe I should be more serious. I head over to Instagram and wonder if I should post my run from Fitbit? Pictures of books I’m reading? Dog pictures (but I don’t have a dog! Yet.)? Knitting Projects? Everything? Nothing?
What am I even about?
I don’t know, exactly. But the more I read about brand personalities, the more I learn about myself.
It’s fun trying to identify what my brand personality is and how this could inform and deepen my writing practice moving forward. I’ll keep you posted as I learn more!