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Table of Contents

Last month, I talked about how I came up with my personal brand as a specialist blogger. Today, I’ll be talking about what it’s like to live with that decision. Identifying your brand is only the first step in the process. You need to sustain your brand on a day-to-day basis. This can be challenging when we’re constantly bombarded with unfiltered content, from eccentric relatives ranting about fringe political theories to celebrities who seem determined to prove that they have more money than sense. But if you’re looking to make a name for yourself as an authoritative content creator, you’d be well advised to resist the urge to share whatever crosses your mind and stick to the brand you’ve chosen for yourself.

What is my brand?

For almost a decade now, I’ve run a blog about the British constitution called A Venerable Puzzle. My brand has three main pillars:

  • Depth: outside of the Academy, popular discussions of the UK’s constitution tend to be incredibly shallow. There are all kinds of caveats and exceptions that tend to get glossed over. The British constitution wasn’t made for TikTok.
  • Accuracy: there’s a lot of misinformation about the UK’s constitution floating around out there. The issue goes beyond conspiratorial YouTube videos. Even otherwise trustworthy publications have disseminated false information (I don’t know what’s more depressing: the idea that they didn’t realize it was false or the idea that they simply didn’t care!).  
  • Openness: a lot of information about the British constitution simply isn’t accessible to members of the public. Luckily, I can use tools like the UK’s Freedom of Information Act 2000 to bring this material into the public domain. 

Confessions of a reluctant tweeter

It took me a long time to decide how I wanted to use social media. It was easy enough to create a Facebook page for my blog, and Wordpress made it easy to cross-promote my content there. Although I created a dedicated Twitter account for my blog, I rarely went beyond posting links to new posts. I was convinced that it was impossible to use Twitter in a way that was consistent with my brand. I had a personal Twitter account as well, but there was little rhyme or reason to my activity there. I discussed whatever struck my fancy, from Egyptology to speculative fiction.

Maintaining two separate accounts wasn’t sustainable, so I eventually consolidated everything under the @JasonLoch handle. I discovered that I could, in fact, use Twitter in a way that was consistent with my brand. Threads allowed me to discuss subjects in relative depth, while I could screenshot sources to show my work. In those heady pre-Elon Musk days, Twitter’s immediacy seemed like it might be a good venue to counter misinformation.

Shifting emphasis

One of the consequences of consolidating my social media presence was that my blog-related content soon crowded out everything else. Most of my followers only subscribed after I started posting constitution-related content, and they’re just not that interested in tweets about computer games, fantasy novels, or ocean liners. Conversely, many of the folks who were interested in my discussions of computer games, fantasy novels, or ocean liners have since moved on because they’re not all that interested in seeing me rabbit on about the British constitution. I decided it was better to focus on maintaining my brand even if it meant narrowing the content that I posted. That also means I’m less likely to accidentally undercut my hard work by an off-the-cuff remark. 

Of course, I could go back to having separate social media presences, but I just don’t enjoy social media enough to do that. Besides, the world is hardly impoverished because it doesn’t get to hear about the firewall sorcerer I’m currently playing in season 3 of Diablo IV or why I have a soft spot for the MV Britannic.  

Resisting temptation

There are moments where I’m tempted to jump on a bandwagon. If I only cared about views, I’d post a steady stream of content about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. But it would be hard to do that while remaining faithful to my brand. Aside from the fact that Prince Harry remains in the line of succession and could theoretically deputize for the King under the Regency Act 1937, there’s no constitutional dimension to their story. I can’t add anything meaningful to the discourse that surrounds them, nor am I interested in diving into the tawdry world of royal gossip. 

It can also be tempting to throw shade when calling out misinformation, but dunking isn’t the same as critiquing. I recently saw a video from a well-known YouTuber in which they claimed that all 56 members of the Commonwealth of Nations owe allegiance to the King. That’s not true. Only 15 of those countries have him as their head of state, and the vast majority of Commonwealth members are actually republics. I could simply lob a snarky tweet at them in the hopes of stoking the fires of digital outrage, but that sort of thing tends to generate more heat than light.

Sticking to a brand inevitably requires some sacrifice. If I donned the mantle of the traditional US ‘royal watcher’ and burbled about what ‘Princess Kate’ is wearing, I’d be well positioned to participate in mainstream American discussions of the Monarchy that treat it as nothing more than an eccentric variant of celebrity culture. But at the same time, I’d be alienating the people who look to me for serious commentary on the subject. It’s only natural to have some degree of FOMO, but in the end you need to trust your instincts. You chose your brand for a reason. You owe it to yourself to see it through.

Stick with your plan

Once you’ve decided how you want to present yourself to the world, you need to stick to the plan you’ve devised. While I initially tried to maintain a wall between my professional brand and my personal brand by having separate social media channels, that proved unsustainable. The end result was that I began using my personal account to promote my blog, though it eventually came to dominate my feed. While I did lose some old followers, I gained far more. Since then, I have been careful to ensure that my public-facing communications are consistent with my brand in order to avoid inadvertently undermining it. But sticking to my plan hasn’t been without its downsides. I’m sometimes tempted to deviate from it for the sake of jumping onto a trend, but it’s simply not worth it. I also realize that I’m foreclosing certain opportunities since it prevents me from being everything to everyone. And that’s okay.

  • Branding is an ongoing journey.
  • You put a lot of work into deciding on your brand. You owe it to yourself to respect that work by following the plan you’ve devised.
  • Don’t give into FOMO. Sure, you may miss out on some opportunities by sticking to your brand, but the ones you do undertake will likely be far better quality.