The Dramedy Method of Personal Branding

The people who produce modern TV shows are really very clever in how they get viewers to connect with and care about the characters on the show.

They start out with a broad premise — this is the stuck up rich girl, this is the upstanding moral cop who obeys the law to the letter — and allow that basic concept to sink in a bit before adding too many details to the equation.

As the storyline moves forward, you find out more about the character’s past — she’s stuck up because she was tormented throughout grade school, he obeys the law so assiduously because he was once a felon — and learn more about how they see their world through their responses to external stimuli (plot twists and interactions with other characters).

Over time, each character is the accumulation of a thousand little points of reference. If you missed an episode, you won’t have the whole story, but there are enough other references to what happened in that story arc that you will still have a pretty solid idea of who someone is and how they will react.

You get them. They become more tangible and beloved, because we can’t help but feel a certain closeness to characters we understand.

Personal branding works the same way.

It’s up to you to provide your audience with the right broad premise (“I’m a fashion-expert from the Midwest who has moved to the coast to show them how it’s done”) supported by the right amount of backstory (“I learned how to sew from my grandmother who died when I was a teenager, and I developed my style while mourning her passing”) and a goodly number of responses to external stimuli (“I think this line I’m working on will be successful because it represents the Midwest-meets-East Coast vibe that I instill in most of my work, and it’s already gotten positive feedback from my hero, Michael Kors”).

Each bit is key in making sure that you’re accurately expressing who you are to your audience while also building up a relationship with them.

Think of it this way: if you see a commercial for a one-hour dramedy (think CSI, 24, Lost, House, Dexter) you don’t watch, and the focus is put on a plot twist involving a character you don’t know, does it have the same emotional impact for you as it would for a fan of the show?

I doubt it. How could you know that the cop in question has always obeyed the law absolutely, and this one act of defiance represents a huge shift in his conduct? For you it’s just another person doing whatever, but for someone who has knowledge of the backstory, they must know what would cause him to do such a thing.

If your audience feels they really know and understand you, they’ll be much more likely to care what you think and do.

Figure out what your storyline is and share it with the world; it’s the best way to get your message across and build a relationships that stick.

Update: February 1, 2017

A somewhat cumbersome way of saying that it’s good to lead with a simplified, but still accurate, portrayal of who you are, and fill in the details as your relationship with your new friend, readers, clients, etc progresses. Trying to front-load all that information will only confuse things, but you also don’t want to sell yourself short or lie about who you are.

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