Extend Your Brand – Seriously? – Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

I remember as a teenager, I continually felt anguish because I was “different.” I desperately wished I could be like my peers instead of always questioning everything from a critical stance. Blogging 101 is beginning to remind of those adolescent days, although I have been reluctant to write about it because I don’t mean to be disparaging of things that appear to be important to others.

This course has helped me conclude that Voices from the Margins is aptly named. The past two assignments for blogging 101 this week have made me realize the blog I share with a partner is on the margins, although many of the friends in our blogging community share the space on the margins with us. After surveying the “events” and “challenges” sponsored by other blogs in response to an assignment, nothing seemed to fit as a place to highlight work I feel is important. Although it may be appropriate for others in the course to focus on expanding readership, proving one’s uniqueness through promotion and competition, and claiming one’s niche, these aren’t really what our blog claims to be about. Sure, I did find one “event” that focused on prose, but the prompt for the week was “horror.” I don’t write fiction, but interpreted from a different perspective, this prompt could certainly include my past posts about Native American boarding schools and child welfare practices, or cultural contrasts of approaches to hunting and gathering, but it would have been a stretch and may well have been viewed as arrogant or offensive.

But today’s assignment – branding?

branding iron slide

Sources: Definition and Image

I understand that it’s the new fad for universities that are eagerly adopting a corporate model in order to compete more effectively “for students and supplies in the marketplace” (Rex Whisman, n.d., para. 1). But honestly, I can’t ignore the images that came to mind when I hear the word “branding.” As someone who is ever sensitive to colonial hegemony, when I read the assignment for today,

I saw images of branding cattle,

branding

Photo Credit: Cattle Branding

branding 2

Photo Credit: Cattle Brands

branding women who transgress society’s narrow strictures for “proper” behavior,

branding 3

Photo Credit: The Scarlet Letter

and what we still think is an appropriate way to stereotype Native American people.

branding 4

Photo Credit: Washington DC Football Team

I do hope at least some readers can step back and think about what the term “branding” implies from different perspectives and consider whether this is really an appropriate way to think about building supportive networks to exchange ideas and overcome the differences that are used to divide us. Branding is a corporate concept based on successfully overcoming one’s competitors. That’s not my idea of a supportive community. A song by Sweet Honey in the Rock comes to mind as a more accurate way for describing how I envision an ideal blogging community “ We Are – One.”

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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34 Responses to Extend Your Brand – Seriously? – Blogging 101

  1. amommasview says:

    I like what you are saying.

    Like

  2. Your writing voice is a valid as anyone else’s. Write from the heart, write what you feel, and write what you know to be true! Blessings, N 🙂

    Like

  3. keaneonlife says:

    I get where you’re coming from. I don’t really care how many people follow me, or how I am branded by the world. I just want to write how I feel, and how I look at the world, and find people who can add to that perception or challenge some of my 68 year old opinions. ‘

    Still, I am getting a lot out of the course. I have learned how to do so many new things with WordPress, which is why I joined the class. So when they give me an assignment which is outside what I want to do with WordPress, I just count it a Skip Day.

    Peace. Out

    Like

    • carolahand says:

      I love your perspective, Keane. Thank you for sharing your strategy for dealing with assignments you chose to ignore, and for pointing out that there are very useful things that have been covered. 🙂

      Like

  4. I followed a blog for a while by a person I came to consider as pretty ego-driven – so many thousand followers, doo-daa, doo-daa, competition for the biggest blog, and actually the writings became pretty boring, just being churned out to get more followers. And it made me consider what I want from my own blog which is: whatever I want to write about, or whatever art I create which has meaning for me and which gives me joy. I’ts great to have followers who appreciate what I do but I don’t want thousands for the sake of it, just rather those who appreciate my offerings and I appreciate theirs. And yes, I’ve been on the margins all my life but at 67 I’ve realised that I can be my own person and I have wonderful friends who couldn’t care less how much I’m off with the fairies!

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    • carolahand says:

      Thank you for sharing your insights, Mo. It makes sense to focus your blog on the things that give you joy – doing so adds to the joy others feel when they view your thoughtful posts and lovely artwork.

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  5. Carol, I’ve just reread your link to, “Worlds Apart: The Enduring Significance of Ojibwe Culture” and actually started another comment differing from what I wrote when you first posted it. But, I’ll spare you the tedium.

    All but one, brand, as it relates to the corporate concept of division.

    Having lived in Texas for 19 years, I’ve experienced and took liking to the Mexican culture and cuisine, the non-meat and dairy version today. There is a strong contempt for the Mexican people among Texans and yet an equally strong liking for Mexican food. And so, they, the proud (translation: arrogant) Texans, have re-branded Mexican food as Tex-Mex. Now, they may claim differences, only minor at best, and often only in name, but it is essentially Mexican food with a slight twist here and there. Cross-cultural, perhaps; but I think the brand’s intent was to align Texans (the Euro-Texans not Mexican-Texans) to Tex-Mex restaurants and away from the Hispanic establishments known as Mexican Restaurants.

    I could be wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • carolahand says:

      What important insights about “rebranding” (or reframing) things in ways that exploit the innovations of other cultures and denigrate those other cultures at the same time, Peter. (I would also welcome hearing any new comments about “worlds Apart…)

      Like

  6. I have nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog Award”. I understand that not everyone gets caught up with awards, nor do they stick to the all the ‘rules’. So if you are reading this and are one of the nominees, know this recognition is sincere.

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  7. I’m beginning to have some of the same problems with the masterclass I’m taking. The author of our main textbook is extremely dismissive of protest activity and “speaking truth to power.” He says that speaking truth to power is just a “complaint session in evening clothes.” There’s also a big emphasis on ownership and taking accountability. I have a big problem with any approach that expects oppressed people (e.g. working class women and Maori) to take accountability for their own oppression.

    Like

    • carolahand says:

      This is a crucial discussion, Stuart. I would love to know what textbook you are using. I’m also curious to know if your class is reading Freire’s work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. His concept of “conscientização” is central to the respectful dialogical approach he used in his work with poor, often illiterate, people in Brazil to help them come to their own understanding of oppression, how it affected their lives, and what to do about it. Like Freire, in my work with oppressed communities I have focused on exploring visions and changes that were defined and directed from within communities rather than imposed by outside experts. It’s not an easy or quick-fix approach, but from my perspective, it is ethical and leads to authentic community-driven goal-oriented actions to assert their sovereignty.

      Like

  8. nicciattfield says:

    Branding in corporations equals competition rather than community. I like community, sharing, caring, and meeting in the spaces between. Branding can also mean a set depiction of what is, and who it belongs to rather than a shaping and transforming energy of conversation and sharing. And yet, you stand out anyway, Carol, in a different way. You stand out because you share, dialogue, shift, transform, and you share your wisdom, your family, your love of community and the natural world. You have your own being, your voice shared from the heart, warm and alive, and not a static depiction of what you should be/ believe others want. You are yourself. You share deep insights, and you listen and you get to know your community. You don’t need to brand yourself or put yourself into a container, because the container would limit you. And stifling your imagination into a set of clever pictures, widgets or fonts misses the point of what you do.

    Keep sharing, caring and showing us the world through your caring eyes. It’s more than enough. You never needed to be anything else, Carol, and your community knows that well.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. here on the recommendation of Crafty lady. Congrats and hope to see more of your great works 🙂

    Like

  10. mytiturk says:

    Without margins there would be a universal goo. Physicists tell us we are headed there in several billion “years.” I can wait…

    Like

  11. Jeff Nguyen says:

    I agree with Nicci. Your brand is your name and your byline…Voices From The Margins. In fact, I would argue your name is everything. Corporations use brands and labels to hide behind and shield themselves from liability and scrutiny. As Audra Lorde reminded us, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Your name is your name, Carol. It is enough, my friend.

    Like

  12. Shery Alexander Heinis says:

    A very thought provoking piece. “I do hope at least some readers can step back and think about what the term “branding” implies from different perspectives and consider whether this is really an appropriate way to think about building supportive networks to exchange ideas and overcome the differences that are used to divide us.”. It is not often that we step back and try to see things from a different perspective and the impact on the other, and the implications of certain terms within a historical context.

    Like

  13. cindy knoke says:

    I hate the whole ‘brand’ malarky. I didn’t even really know much about it until I read this post. I always thought branding cattle was cruel. I watched it when I was a kid. If you are going to label something you do as your “brand,” then you feel a need to own and abuse your own creative outputs? Why?
    Money. Obviously. I don’t think money is worth selling your creative self. It is too precious. But then, I am a social worker! Laughing……We are not generally money oriented~
    You rock my ‘deah!

    Like

  14. susanissima says:

    Branding is such a scary word! “Brands” I’m drawn to are those unstated, like backstory in a novel. They emerge through the words, the photos, the ideas, the flow of the work. A book, a blog needs to be more than its cover. Thank you for writing about this, Carol. I love what you do here.

    Like

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