I was set to say I was sorry that you chose Gene Weingarten to ask about building a personal brand because, instead of a helpful answer, he supplied a curmudgeonly rant attacking what he imagines the word “brand” represents, which appears to be everything evil in the world of journalism. I also assumed it was partly your own fault for not realizing ahead of time that such a response certainly is consistent with Weingarten’s “brand.” How wrong I was. As your paper, published on Steve Buttry’s blog, makes perfectly clear, you knew his reputation well, even if you didn’t anticipate his exact reaction. As you note, Weingarten “certainly qualifies as a recognizable brand and reaps the benefits that come with textbook brand equity,” even if he himself refuses to recognize how those terms are now commonly used. You even appear to know Weingarten better than he knows himself, pointing out that interaction is the new-media currency, that “Interaction is a hallmark of the Weingarten brand,” and “he was an early adopter of interactive web technologies and fully embraces Twitter.”
I was all set to sit down here and rant myself. But everything I was going to say appears to be in your paper. Excellent work.
Also well worth reading is Steve Buttry’s own take on branding.
I can sympathize with those who don’t like the use of “brand” in journalism conversations because it originated in marketing and advertising. It still makes me a little uncomfortable, but I recognize it is in common use. There’s a better chance of getting people to stop saying, “I could care less,” than of stopping the use of “brand.” The language evolves, and as media changes so too does the language involved. What’s important is the idea and the application. If you get hung up on specific words, you will spend all your time just ranting. But maybe that isn’t the end of the world. Maybe it actually helps you. Maybe it’s your brand.
UPDATE: I had looked earlier for this example from last year of Weingarten’s take on the new media landscape, just stumbled across it.
UPDATE: Dammit. I like to think I’m original, but Google brings this post with the same title and basically the same point: “the word ‘brand,’ really boils down to one thing: the expectation your fans/friends/consumers have about you.”