Cococello is Deb Pang Davis. Independent print and digital designer, educator and soon-to-be-author.


A New Year and an Exercise in Self Branding

For the last several months I’ve taken measures to really hone my identity.

One major step was to contact Carolyn Wood after reading about Duoh's redesign. I was nervous given the company she keeps and I had nothing to lose, so after a brief email exchange and a wonderful telephone conversation, I took Carolyn’s advice to check out LeaLea’s Art of Self-Branding.

Below is the result of an exercise from her branding series where I emailed several of my friends, family and even acquaintances to share three words to describe me, Deb Pang Davis.

I was surprised how many responded:

Jamie friend 4 precise, brilliant, honest
Fran friend, former colleague 9+ problem-solver, fresh, electric, elegant
Jay friend, former colleague 3+ persistent, dedicated, visionary
Cydney friend 10 thoughtful, clever, skilled
Cheryl friend, former roommate 10+ sensual, Asian, sassy
Norie friend, former colleague 7 smart, sprightly, mod
Ashley online friend 1+ friendly, methodical, open
Kimberly friend, former colleague 4 creative, modern, warm
Rob friend 9+ determined, sophisticated, glowing
Marika friend, former colleague 3+ brainy, dedicated, talented
Elizabeth friend 6+ On top of things, generate happiness, positive energy
Loup friend 7+ elegant, fresh, curious
Leslie friend 5 months purveyor of beauty, effervescent, good listener
Melissa friend 7 modest, elegant, fanciful, honest
Amy friend, former colleague 7 fresh, classic, elegant, chic
Eleanor friend, former colleague 5+ sincere, fun-loving, creative, delightful
Karin friend, former colleague 8+ great mediator, big-picture thinker, great mentor
Martha friend 3+ sparkly, sly, off-kilter
Amy friend 2 creative, ebullient, positive
Susan friend 4+ thoughtful, caring, warm
Leigh friend, former supervisor 7 smart, jovial, beautiful
Sonya friend 5+ intelligent, laughing, approachable
Vince friend 7+ smart, sharp, sweet
Sara friend 3 fresh, determined, convincing
Palmarin friend 1+ boisterous, bubbly, compelling
Johnny friend, classmate 1+ elegant, responsive, invested
Randy friend 7+ elegant, functional, precise
Marian acquaintance 5 months compact, wry, elegant
Stephen online friend several weeks friendly, thoughtful, attentive

The experience of opening replies was exciting. I knew most would be positive and the results were deliciously interesting. One curious and perhaps revealing note is that my family never responded to my request. I say this with some amusement and uncertainty. I’ve since forgotten to ask and I’m not taking it to heart.

Aside from that interesting fact, the responses were quite flattering and consistent. Warm, thoughtful, energetic, elegant, and smart were listed several times from people no matter the kind or how long the relationship. There were a couple of surprises: persistent, functional, off-kilter, compact, sensual, and boisterous and neither made me feel unsettled.

I’ve moved around a lot (13 cities in 19 years) so many of my relationships are maintained from a distance. Working from home is also a factor too since my interactions with people are primarily through twitter, Facebook, ichat, email and occasionally a phone call.

So compared to the list of adjectives I had listed of myself and of my work, my perception of myself seems consistent with how I come across in public. That knowledge is great and one that I can embrace confidently.

What’s Next?
2009 seems geared more toward refinement and action. This is my third year in business and I’ve learned a great deal from so many willing to share their knowledge and experiences. It’s a great time to be online and to be self-employed.

Several ideas are in the works including a promising relationship with a letterpress printer for invitations, announcements and social stationery. And, the relationship I’ve built over the years with photographers also promises to be fruitful with more self-initiated and collective projects. Another major priority is launching a website. I've been so busy helping others that my own site has been pushed to the background. Soon, I hope.

Building and refining relationships. That is my understanding to be the key in growing, evolving and learning about self; about others, and about business. But I think being honest with self -- an on-going process -- is the first step. It is not easy to do and it’s a great path to discover and know one’s core values, dreams and even limitations.

Self-branding Resources
LeaLea’s The Art of Self-Branding. She has some wonderful slideshow presentations as well as a short and useful worksheet to help you get started.

Fast Company’s, The Brand Called You.

Leslie Burns delAcqua’s book, Tell the World Your Don't Suck: Modern Marketing for Commercial Photographers. While Leslie’s book is geared more toward photographers, there are many relevant points for any independent business person looking for their “secret sauce”.

And speaking of “secret sauce”: For all the women out there looking for networking opportunities, support, guidance and incredible resources, Ladies Who Launch is an incredible community of other female business owners. The incubators are worth every penny because the benefits are a great bang for your buck.

Here’s to the beauty and power of relationships. Happy New Year!

25 Random Facts About Me

Canada Type and The New York Times Magazine