One of the biggest brand-called-you practitioners is calling the whole notion into question. Tech pundit Sarah Lacy publishes in four or five media and wonders what the point is.
As far as she's concerned, Lacy had it all, 'round about May: A book (about Web 2.0 companies like Facebook), a Web video show, a BusinessWeek column (and gestalt-changing cover story), a blog and of course a Twitter stream. Then she realized no medium was helping another much.
After about 10 years of "worked evenings, sleepless nights, sacrificed relationships and any kind of work/life balance," the tech pundit just wrote a long essay concluding that becoming a brand is overrated because "I can't pull fans and readers across platforms." Also: "brand that hits people fast usually doesn't last."
Oh, sure, Lacy admits, she's making more money, is better prepared for the downturn, has greater name recognition, experiences "amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences," and, hell, people even stop her in the street to tell her she's awesome, but not in the right way, you see:
I'm stunned by how many people read this blog, but never go to TechTicker. Or how many people watch TechTicker, but have no idea I write a BusinessWeek column. Or how many people follow me on Twitter, but still think I'm on staff for BusinessWeek full-time. Or— I swear to God— the number of people who know me from any of those platforms and say, "You wrote a book?" ...Whenever I get recognized and someone asks if I'm Sarah Lacy, I smile and say yes, but then coyly ask how they know me. Because I've learned it's different every time, and it's never all-of-the-above.
What is wrong with you internet people? Sarah Lacy is working hard so you can fully appreciate her and you're not FULLY APPRECIATING HER IN ALL MEDIA CONSTANTLY.
At this rate she'll never be culturally immortal!
That's the thing about branding yourself: It gets easier to do all the time, and the potential audience is constantly growing. But you're still on the hedonic treadmill, racing to surpass — or even keep up with — all the competition.