Recently I’ve been thinking about what it means to be authentic to yourself. It means understanding who you are and sticking to that, and making decisions based on your personal hopes, dreams, passions, and preferences. It means not settling for a job you don’t love, even in this economy. It means staying true to yourself.
But then I started to wonder — is personal branding truly authentic? Personal branding is all the rage nowadays, and it’s the way we market ourselves to others, especially through social media and Web 2.0. Personal branding is an amazing way to reach out to likeminded professionals, increase your network, and really demonstrate your knowledge of and passion for your field. I feel like I have been building up a personal brand through this blog, and I’m becoming more and more defined as someone passionate about law and human rights. Which was, of course, one of the purposes of this blog: to help me define myself, and to learn more about this field.
However, more and more I find myself wanting to write about other topics as well. Like this post about personal branding, which has nothing to do with human rights. Or about writing, or my career, or even any of my other interests ranging from microfinance to travel to social media to religion. I realize that I am multi-dimensional, and I have so many more interests and passions than can be captured by a simple personal brand.
There are so many amazing niche blogs out there, about topics like politics, marketing, entrepreneurship, career advice, social media, and so on. These bloggers are building up their personal brands by focusing on those topics, and they are becoming known by their expertise in their field. Yet, I am sure these bloggers have so many more interests that can’t be reflected accurately in their blog, and in their brand. Then, is this type of personal branding authentic? By employing personal branding so much, perhaps we are losing bits of ourselves in the process.
Is it authentic for me to be known as solely a “human rights and law” student and blogger, when I have so many other passions as well? It seems to me that personal branding, then, is somewhat deceptive. You’re seeing what the blogger wants to portray themselves as, rather than who they really are. Personal branding, then, isn’t necessarily authentic. It’s instead a tool that people can use to portray themselves to others. But if you want to really get to know someone, personal branding just doesn’t do the trick of accurately capturing who they are – a truly multi-dimensional person with so many diverse interests, passions, and hopes.