I’m having trouble with my brand
I don’t know about you, but I can’t figure out if I’m a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter or a bar of soap. I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s blog, and I’m really confused. And I’m not trying to be deliberately snarky about this; I realize that, as a writer and an aspiring musician, that it might really help me if I could codify my essence into something pithy, something bright and shiny and resonant and, um, slightly irresistible.
Trouble is, I’m usually all over the road like a full-sized American sedan from the 1970s.
But I want to be incandescent, and positive, and incandescently positive, and positively incandescent, too. All four. At once. You know, bright and shiny and upbeat, like taking mushrooms on a beautiful spring morning, dressing up like something out of a Fellini movie and singing along with loudly played ABBA records at the top of my lungs, hoping the birds nearby will join in and pick up the harmonies.
It’s been said that I have a tendency to be a bit of a “dark mofo,” as in, “Griffith, you are such a dark mofo sometimes,” and perhaps the graf immediately above reads like snark. It isn’t meant to, though. I’m just trying to communicate something essential: I want to come across in a way that is understood, and in such away that kindness and laughter and maybe even a little of that mercurial spark of love radiates from me to you and back. I’d like to be a little more Judd Apatow, and a little less Luis Buñuel. I’d like to spark up your sandwich with just the right balance of sweet and savory.
Oh, what the hell am I talking about? It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m posting something here just so that you’ll read it and maybe laugh. I’m posting so that my “blog hits” don’t go into the negative figures, so that you’ll stay interested and maybe you’ll keep reading this blog, because it’s really about the best thing I’ve got going right now.
So, back to branding. Look, I know I’m a good writer. With a little elbow grease and focus, I can be a great writer. And I want to do that; I want to move people. Because I’m kind of aloof out in the world — my favorite personal cliche is that I’m that guy people elbow out of the way so they can hug each other — but because I really do love connecting with people, I know that writing, for me, seems to be the most effective way to do this, so that’s one core characteristic of my brand: Does not play well with others, perhaps, but can reach them and touch them with words.
I’m also a pretty good songwriter, a damned good one, really, but you probably don’t know that. I’m still working on my presentation, and my singing voice, and my guitar playing. The blessing-slash-curse is that I’m pretty creative, like a fountain, so new ideas are always coming up, and I lose the time to go back and perfect songs I’ve already finished. Of course, at age 55, I’m kind of long in the tooth to pick up a guitar and go out and expect people to listen to some alter kocker when this is a 22 year old’s game, but all these Baldy McYogapants pundits of the new paradigm that I’ve been reading keep saying that there are no rules or gatekeepers or anything else stopping me, except maybe club owners who don’t want to book me because I’m past my sell-by date in their opinion. Their loss, and yours, too. But as certain hexagrams in the I Ching suggest: perseverance furthers. I get up every morning, and it’s a new day. My credo, if I have one, is this: Never give up. Ever. So there’s another core characteristic of my brand: That songwriter who never gives up.
Going forward, my brand will be about transparency — what you see is what you get — and generosity. The latter, because so many people have been generous to me, and I’ve kind of walled myself off from everyone else over the years, and used to be a hoarder when I had stuff, and see the folly of that now. So I plan on giving my time and, when I have it, largesse to help others, because that’s how you get yourself into the flow.
I guess I’m not as confused about my brand as I thought I was. Well, maybe. —Jackson Griffith