Thursday, September 23, 2010

branding: what I hate about it

All over the internet you'll find guides telling you that in order to promote you blog/business, online identity you need to master the secret of modelling yourself into a brand. And it drives me nuts. I don't aspire to be a brand in real life, so why must I aspire to be a brand online in order to attract attention?


Maybe this seems like a naive questions but it actually strikes me as something of a paradox in advice. I should be me, but packaged in a shiny little box, all tied up with a pretty ribbon, in order to be a marketable project.

When did we start thinking in terms of selling ourselves. I grew up believing selling yourself = selling out. So it sort of frightens me to see how this seems to be the status quo now.

Companies sell brand/lifestyle identity. Now bloggers are selling it. Whatever happened to embracing our multilayered, complicated, fascinating selves? Because I don't know about you, but I am many things beyond creator of some origami ornaments.

For instance, sometimes (often) I am a ranter.
Sometimes I exude pure Pollyanna-esque joy
Other times I wallow in depression and won't leave the house except for work

But I do always try to undermine the myth that we must be miserable in order for our art to thrive (I hate that narrative/identity)

I use big words, but I swear like nobody's business. How do I brand that?

I like literature and think reading rocks. But I read on an iKindle because honestly, well even though I like the feel of a good book... my phone weighs less and carries more, which leaves more room in my purse for other things, like yoga pants and lunch, and a lot of journals that I write in throughout the day.

What brand is that?

I like paper. But I also like paint, and photography. And other things that don't start with a P. But mostly, I'm a little bit of Crafty A.D.D. I have a list 10 feet long of things that I want to do, and maybe only a foot of them will ever really get done!

Sometimes I wanna write sloppy and talk about how great the new season of Being Erica is going to be!

I know I should use and track all my links... but honestly, I'm way too lazy for that shit!

I want to write about what inspires me, when it inspires me. Over the summer it was crafty stuff and canning. Before that, politics. Now it's work and spirituality. But I like art, so I'll probably link it all together.

I just can't guarantee that there will ever be a Marya/Lotus Tree Craft brand. Because I'm a complicated, evolving, dynamic being and I think that should be reflected on my blog. So when I'm interested in art, I'll write about it. When I'm jonesing to bake, I'm gonna bake people. And when the world seems wrong and I need to vent, well nothing's ever stopped me before, so I'm certainly not going to stop now.

I just wish people would stop talking about branding and start talking about authenticity and living a life that allows us the space to explore and create and develop into our bestest self.


  1. I'm with you 100% of the way on this. My mom gave be a book called the power of branding or marketing yourself or something like that and I smiled and nodded but all I wanted was to puke. Because I don't want to read a book that will supposedly tell me how to become a brand and how it will lead me to success and happiness and all that. I already know who I am and I don't want to have to wrap it up for people. I just want to make things I like and be me. I'm already happy, I doubt working hard on defining Viv/Fleur de Pixie will make me happier. In fact it will most definitely not make me happier. But I appreciated the thought. To make it out there, we're supposed to think like that. She just wanted me to make it...ok I shouldn't rant in comments like this. But I couldn't help it

  2. I know exactly what you mean Marya. I'm also from that portion of society that grew up believing that selling yourself = selling out, but I think in this case it's a matter of semantics. As a designer part of my job often is to help people to "brand" themselves or their businesses and it's not so much intended to box you in, as to create an image that indicates to people who know nothing about you, what you're about. In many cases, (more and more in recent years), that includes this sense of diversity that exists within an individual. "Branding" has become a really annoying buzzword that really has very little to do with what it started out as, which was simply a mark or distinguishing feature to identify the things that you create and put out into the world as your own. And that can be whatever you want it to be, for however long you want it to be. And honestly, I've seen some really interesting self-discoveries come from the self-reflection that goes into creating the seeds of a "brand" that are really not so different from any other kind of creative endeavour. :-)

  3. Ange, I know and I agree, but it's just so annoying to hear it bandied about so often. I feel like it's a word that gets thrown around so often without any nuancing of what it could/should actually entail that I feel like it teaches newbies on the market (me) very scary ideas about what it takes to succeed! You know?

  4. Viv... this is exactly why I wanted to write the post - because it seems like the very first thing you have to do before we're probably even ready, is to create an identity for our products.

    Like Ange said, I think it can be useful to figure out what things you are drawn to/what your style gravitates towards through thinking about branding but I'm totally resistant to the idea that my "product" has to be unified into one cohesive identity. I want to make origami, block print, paint and anything else that strikes my fancy... when it does and so my stuff can be all over the place, just like me!

  5. And there's your "brand" right there. ;-)

    (I too really, really hate the way the term is crammed down everyone's throat - buzzwords annoy me)



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