The Journal is an online collection of articles and essays written and curated by writer & photographer Thomas W Coombs, published bi-annually.

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Issue 2; Branding Thy Self

by T W Coombs

For years I have been very good at making a Brand work, a logo pop and making people ask about what the brand does, but this was a company.  Genius Babble Music was a brand that could be thrown about to all corners without fear as it was a thing, not a whom.  So when my new venture, this, was coming along I suddenly thought "how the hell do I brand myself?” the answer is, carefully.
The internet is a glorious thing, it can help with self promotion and can be a huge tool in getting you out there, your image and your ideas, plus your plans for world domination, okay that is a bit far but you get what I am saying.  But it can also be the death of you, with criminals stealing your identity left and right.  This is bad enough, but with twitter and Instagram you are opening your world up to, well, the world.  Yes you can put everything on private, and some do, but if you are creating yourself as a brand you can't hide away, you have to be free and open.  So how do you stay safe but also free? The thing to do is treat your brand like any other, push you concepts and ideas but never make it personal.

I will write about experiences, items I have bought, places I have visited but I will never say exactly when and I will make it entertaining without telling you my life story.  I can make things very personal without giving away my home address or phone number, I have told people what town I live in, but that is like saying "I live in London" it is a big place and I am not going to say what road I live in.  This is how to start your thought process.

So to branding yourself, I thought it would easy, because I am me, I know me better than anyone, but this is the scary moment when you realise you know you less than you thought.  You have to push the parts of you that are part of what you are doing, thankfully for me it is more art than my face.  My art are my words, the words you are reading now, not the picture of what I am wearing, what watch I have on today or my lunch plate and it is my words so really it is easier to be less personal on social media.  My pictures are personal on Facebook, sometimes without choice but this is locked to the outside world but twitter and Instagram are different. To a point it is slightly personal but this also is about selling your business, your ideas, that famous person on Instagram isn't showing you their life they are selling their name to you or some product they get for free. So what your pictures say about you is one thing but they also need to show the image that you are pushing for your brand, if you are writing about fashion then don’t take lots of pictures of fish.  You may also take some more artistic photos which is great as this is all about the art and not a certain subject.  But do link it with what you are doing at the time.  No one wants to read a robot talking about something but there is just no feeling within the words.

The main thing is your brand and you need to become one when selling yourself as a product rather than a thing, a bit like selling an idea to an investor.  I was having this conversation with a close friend who is always interested in my projects, so when we went out for a drink I was dressed as is the norm these days.  He has been following my look on Instagram and was happy to see I was still dressed this way when we went out.  The point you see is don’t be stylish and dapper on Instagram but in person always wear jeans, t-shirt and those converse you still have from Glastonbury circa 2006, if you are seen your whole brand is blown apart.  This doesn’t mean always, if I am off to Sainsbury's shopping then I am not wearing a waistcoat, but out on the town at night I probably will be and I will always be quite smart and making sure I have minimum of style when out during the day.

If like me you are a multi-versed person, fingers in many pies, then your world is open to do whatever you like, my brand is me, my words are what I am selling and they can be about anything I want, also if I am commissioned then great, but the brand is still the words, I am just helping them along by selling the case my words come in.