Infuse Your Business Identity With Personal Brand Power

paint you into your personal brand

Starting from scratch when conceiving who your business will be and how your personal brand fits into the picture, developing its business identity (and in parallel, your online identity), can feel like this. It can feel like dropping a tiny marble into the sea from a plane and hoping it will roll up onto the sand at the beach from where you took off. Not only that but hoping it will happen while you’re watching and that its bright colors will make it easy to spot from the air. Impossible.

But we all know that it’s not because, well, the world is made up of businesses that have clearly defined identities. Their personality, good qualities, values and value are readily apparent, their brightness easy to spot from a distance. Everyone starts from somewhere. Share on XThey had to have a talent for mining those qualities and bringing them to the surface (or the beach).

That’s the fanciful way of saying it’s hard to start a business and settle into its personality – to grow its character. It’s even harder to commit to and follow through on making it genuine to who you really are and will be as a business and then to continue doing so regularly. No matter the size or stage of development.


To add to the challenge you then must be self-aware enough to find a way to communicate that identity to others. Again, this is really true whether you are a tiny business just starting out or well-established, small or large.


Now don’t laugh (or… okay, go-ahead. why not?). When we first came to Santa Barbara in 1995, 3071.4 miles away from home to be close to my parents because my dad was suddenly, terminally ill, we left behind an extended network of dear friends and acquaintances, colleagues and peers, professionals whom we’d intersected with in our careers accrued over a span of 23 years while living in the Boston area and a short stint in NYC and other close family members as well. Our lives on the eastern side of the nation revolved around art making and galleries, museums, exhibitions, openings and we were well known in the public eye. But not only that, my place and my purpose were well defined. My identity was well established and stemmed from and revolved around each of my phases of personal and professional evolution. With each passing year, my identity (my personal brand) was more firmly rooted, more recognizable and known even to strangers.

Moving to Santa Barbara where we knew almost no one was a startling change from what we were accustomed to. The very landscape, vegetation, culture and style were displacing. I was lonely and frightened about the eventual outcome of my father’s illness and immersed in his medical care with my mom who had a serious illness of her own.

That’s not the funny part.

This is: The first friends I made here were a few slightly eccentric elderly men in their 80’s that I met in the Jacuzzi at the Y after I did my laps in the pool. They weren’t friends with each other except for that daily ritual of sitting in the hot tub where they came together for a short while and traded tidbits and stories. I loved those guys and looked forward to seeing them every day. I didn’t exactly fit in but they tolerated me.

One of them, whose name was Noran, I also unexpectedly and regularly saw at the beach in the very early mornings when my husband and I would escape our dreary temporary apartment to go to sit on a weathered log to drink our morning tea out of thermoses. It was a transitional moment, a wink of time between waking and sitting back down again on a chair this time in our apartment to work and face the day’s bizarre mixture of purposes. We used the ocean as a means for soothing our displaced souls. The foamy waves and sand, pelicans and snowy plovers, breezes and sand fleas helped us prepare for long hours spent in front of computer displays creating make believe 3D and illustrated, animated worlds and new media broken only by familial duties and a welcome swim interlude. A very emotionally complex simple life.

Noran had a crush on me. And truthfully, I kind of had one on him also. He wore denim overalls and was quite handsome and I let him kiss me on the lips in greeting. Over time, I discovered that he was also very interesting and I loved what he thought about. He was well-informed about the Chumash, the original inhabitants of this region. He talked about his daughter who worked at the Museum of Natural History. She was a specialist of native tribes, a documentarian of Juana Maria, a Nicoleño Native Californian left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island, one of the Channel Islands off shore from Santa Barbara, in the 19th century. The woman whose story was the centerpiece of one of my most cherished childhood books “The Island of The Blue Dolphins”. Things that embellished the connection. He was fiercely jealous of my husband, Doug. We got a kick out of it.


I still look back on that time and those utterly unlikely friends with a sense of warmth and fondness. They injected a sense of community and friendship into my life at a time when I dearly needed it. They became the cornerstone of my life here. I had no idea at that time that we were here to stay. But they launched me safely into a world of strangers and gave me the courage to explore a life starting almost from scratch with all new people.

What I also didn’t realize was that they were setting the stage for our future web development company. They were my first thread of connection into a community I would grow to love and feel a deep loyalty towards. And in that way, they were the first inkling of the first seed of a spirit that our company would eventually embody.


It was a time of opening up for me. Here, I was nobody. Unknown and anonymous, separated from the people and institutions that knew me and trusted me. Out of necessity I found camaraderie and connection in unlikely places with people I seemed to have nothing in common with. I discovered there were people to engage with in a sea of strangers and it literally didn’t matter who they appeared to be on the outside.


I made “friends” with anyone who was willing to exchange and share in a moment of bonding. Over time, I also made more likely kinds of friends through activities I was involved in. I grew new sea legs and a new huge network of people who matter to me and I to them. People not involved in art, widened and more inclusive than what I’d experienced in the past. Many people who even had no idea I’d lived as an artist. What I learned most of all is that-

We are connecting on our values and our hearts, souls. Share on XThat the names or labels we give people to describe their context in the world isn’t something to keep people separated.

That brings me to now where in another startling chain of events over the last few years I find myself loving people from around the world whom I have yet to share air with. We have never met in person. These are the people I met online originally through the marketing of our business and they are as much an integral part of my life by now as many on the ground. My concept of friendship has uncannily exploded to find love in nooks and crannies I had not imagined possible.

”The reaching out of minds and interests and even of curiosity, that is now taking place, is forming communities of the mind that are beginning to exert their influence upon the world, changing it, one tiny bit at a time, even as the contact of so many virtual strangers, digital friends, is now changing us.” David Amerland, from his Sunday Read Collection, Topic: Network

By a kind of natural extension, you become part of the narrative and identity of my business. Share on X

My father died a couple of years after we arrived (he miraculously outlived his 3 month prognosis) and it took some time to change my identity here in Santa Barbara from the daughter who came to be near her family and help her father at the end of his life to something more optimistic. A phenomenon of change that informed the creation of our business. What I emphasized in all that played a part in how my story shifted to a person putting a lifetime of experiences, skills and passion into creating a business that helps others do the same for themselves. The story of my participation in father’s end of life faded eventually and transformed to my present identity. The one I am living in now.


Now that brings me back to the subject at hand and the necessity of seeing what you’re made of. Cultivating the ability to recognize and cull the traits that are most meaningful in the work that you do to create your business personality, its character, your compilation of stories, its narrative. There are threads that run through all of it and connect pertinent aspects. Those traits that best describe your intention and commitment. The facets that demonstrate what it would be like to work with you, to purchase a product from you.

Even more paramount is to recognize that everything you bring to the table is part of the picture you will paint that is the heart of your company. And that means your personal-self as well. Do not be afraid to let the light shine on who you are as an individual and how that feeds your business identity. Share on X

“I believe with all my heart and mind that the future of online marketing, cause building, and change creation is intensely PERSONAL. It is a simple fact of human nature that people trust people before they’ll trust faceless brands or organizations.” Mark Traphagen

You know who you are and you know the details that compile into the greater whole of what you are endeavoring to do. Do an inventory.


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Pre-remixed photo: Copyright p_saranya

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    By: Gina Fiedel

    Gina Fiedel is the co-founder/owner of Fat Eyes Web Development. After a successful career as an artist and transitioning into electronic media in the early 90’s, she then founded Fat Eyes in 1998 to bring those skills to the web with her husband, Doug Anderson. Being engaged in business has created gratifying opportunities for communication and new inroads towards making a contribution that counts. You can learn more about Gina on the Fat Eyes Who Are We? page and Gina Fiedel Story.

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