When brand and self-promotion collide

When brand and self-promotion collide


I was interviewed last year for an ABC News story about the new questions around the VW braking issues that are being raised in light of the emissions cheating scandal.  The show aired last Sunday night and the next day I sent out a quick tweet noting that part of the interview was shown in the story.

 Was I building my brand or just doing a bit of shameless self-promotion? Is there a difference?

 That’s the crux of a question asked a few weeks ago by friend and colleague Mark Schroffel:

 Mark Schroffel ‏@MarkSchroffel Jan 19

@michelhogan @SmartCompany Can we discuss the difference between brand building and self-promotion.


It’s something worth exploring both for individuals and for organisations.

The short version is that everything you do and say is part of building brand, so by that virtue, self promotion is not different to building brand but part of it. Not all of it, just part of it.

Self-promotion (be it some flavour of marketing, social media, media relations or just talking about what you’re up to) is an important thing to do. It helps ensure that people can know what you care about and can choose whether that is something they feel connected to and want to be part of. As Thornton May once said “You might be the best thing since sliced bread but it doesn’t do me a damn bit of good if I don’t know about you.”

Unfortunately too often that becomes an avaricious land grab for attention rather than a considered action to shine a light on what you’re doing or thinking. There’s a fine line between “look at me because I’m me” and “look at this this thing I’m doing”. And it’s pretty easy to see when it’s been crossed – something that in our “me” obsessed culture happens all too often.

Building a brand comprises a vast collection of actions and decisions. Of promises made and kept, consistently over time. What you’re doing and how you’re doing it. All aligned around why you’re doing it. Held together by your values.

At the core of any brand is a long-term commitment to something. And that is where short-term self promotion at any cost goes astray. Back to that “look at me” thing. It has a shelf life. Sure we might look with a kind of bored fascination, but underneath it we’ve already moved on. I know I am happier and more fulfilled when what I look at is anchored in something I can care about.

When what you care about is visible. When you’re committed to it down into the corners, it gets noticed. When you talk about it, we’re interested to know more. We’re drawn to the story.

That’s the kind of self-promotion that builds the brand.

Ask yourself  “am I supporting what I care about?” If the answer is yes than there’s a good chance it will be self-promotion that builds the brand.

See you next week with how to get the brand result you want.

Get your brand questions answered by posting them on twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at [email protected]

Michel is an Independent Brand Analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.


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