Jen McCown in her SQL Awesomesauce blog today raised the challenge for us to wax poetic on the topic of ‘branding’ for the ceremonious very first Un-SQL Friday. I’m sure more will follow as the day progresses, but as of now, I’ve seen only two fellow bloggers chiming in; Andy Leonard & Thomas LaRock. Well, here’s my two cents on this very interesting topic.
Those six of you who come here and also follow me on Twitter, may be already aware of my appreciation for the musings of Seth Godin. While I’ve never been employed in any formal capacity as a marketer, I’ve recently had quite an internal debate over branding; and specifically my own. As he often does, Seth puts it quite succinctly:
Take the time and money and effort you'd put into an expensive logo and put them into creating a product and experience and story that people remember instead.
And while a free Twitter account and a $4.99 monthly investment to Go-Daddy for this blog don’t necessarily qualify as “money and effort” or an “expensive logo”, on my smaller scale, the decision to brand myself as the Grateful DBA ultimately comes down to just what Seth preaches. Who are you and what do you want to be known for? What does your brand say about you? And maybe most importantly, what will your brand say about you in the future? We live in an electronic age; nothing goes away forever anymore. Those familiar with the saga of our poor friend “@SQLTech2″ on Twitter can certainly attest to this.
On the most basic level, we need to think about whether we should spend effort and time with a brand that may or may not even be appropriate one, two, or even 10 years down the line. While for the foreseeable future I see myself continuing in my career as a SQL Server DBA, who knows what next year may hold. Maybe I’ll move into a developer role sometime again; perhaps not even with good ol’ T-SQL, maybe even C#, Java, or who know what. Similarly, what if in the future it comes out that Jerry Garcia was the owner of a international consortium of bunny-killers? Well, I may have to seriously reconsider being associated with such a character. Well, maybe not, bunnies CAN get pretty vicious you know…
We also have to consider if people are even going to understand what your brand means, right? It occurs to me that perhaps in some third-world corner of the globe, they’ve never even heard of the Grateful Dead. Blastphemy…I know! But let’s play make believe then. The next question when they hit my site via a Bing search is of course, “what the heck is he all grateful about?” I concede this possibility tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a real issue to consider.
Once your audience knows what your brand means/refers to, what connotations does that carry with it? Are these connections something you wish to carry with you? Who would you rather do business with, “The #1 Microsoft DBA 5-years Running” or “The Crackhead DBA”?? Impressions before knowledge is dangerous territory, but unfortunately reality as well. By the way, the first guy was just arrested for embezzlement and is a polygamist. The second gal’s actual given name is “Crackhead”; don’t blame her, it’s mom & dad’s fault.
Ultimately, what it came down for me was that I’m not ashamed in any way to be associated with the band and people that have meant so much to me in the last 20 years of my life. Whereas some may carry the notion with them that the Dead are only about sex, drugs, & rock-n-roll; any truly informed person knows the band was about peace, order, & caring for your fellow man. None of those are EVER anything to be embarrassed about. So, the decision to brand myself “The Grateful DBA” was made quite easily. The band, it’s scene, & followers have actually MADE me what I am today; a more-than-competent DBA and a valued contributor to the SQL community and the world in general.
So, what does your brand say about you?
Have a Grateful day…Troy