Archive for Personal Branding

Digital Marketing Spotlight: PORTLAND

Portland skyline sketch

Portland: home to the now-cliche “hipster,” now-touristy Voodoo donuts, and now-blooming hub for digital marketing.

Keeping up with my “Spotlight” series on brands that are doing some aspect of digital marketing right (if you missed it, here’s me gushing about Kate Spade’s twitter + instagram campaigns and Gap’s mobile marketing initiative), I wanted to highlight another champion of the digital marketing industry. In this case, however, instead of singing the praises of a specific brand, I’m giving a shoutout to my hometown, which is ONNNN POINT with its host of kick-ass digital marketing agencies. I’ll post some more specific introductions to a few that have done an especially good job of standing out from the pack, but right now I’m drawing emphasis to the Portland region as a whole with its digital marketing efforts.

Digital marketing has met its match with Portland’s blend of creativity, youthfulness, and innovation.

It’s fueled by a contagious cocktail of talent, young energy, professionals who work their toned-bike-commuter butts off, quirky creativity, and maybe some really great sustainably-sourced coffee. It’s the work-hard-play-hard mentality. It’s the marriage of tried-and-true traditional marketing with the millennialist  emphasis on relationship, experience, and aesthetic/design. And it’s a sight more beautiful to behold than the mid-April Portland waterfront in bloom. (Okay, laying off with the overdone PDX references for real now.)

Pop Art, one such Portland-based agency (not to be confused with Lady Gaga’s lackluster 3rd album ARTPOP), explains the phenomenon in better words than I could:

 Pop Art’s home of Portland, Oregon has become one of the creative capitals of the United States. We’re home to exceptional interactive agencies on the cutting edge of modern digital marketing and interactive design.

Okay, digital marketing and design, we get it. But why is Portland actually distinct from other regions when it comes to the digital marketing industry?

 Portland’s history is steeped in the go-it-alone, do-your-own-thing, pioneer spirit. That translates directly into the modern makeup of the city. With our thriving arts, music, film and interactive scene, Portland has become a place where even the most “out-there” thinkers can find their niche and innovate in the global economy.


That’s the key: NICHES. NICHES NICHES NICHES NIETZSCHE NICHES. Digital marketing is geared around the long tail, the granular, the individual…and individualism is basically the altar upon which Portland worships. Not conceited individualism which only serves the self, but the overall concept of valuing and cultivating your own unique skillsets that can always be honed and improved to create something bigger than yourself. Not lazy individualism, but oh-you-think-you’re-cool-okay-then-do-something-with-it individualism. Individualism that ultimately ends up contributing to a team effort in some way or another.

The result of such a culture is an elite team of intelligent, savvy, forward-thinking individuals who are ever learning, ever creating, ever tweaking. And I want to be on one.

SO BADLY. I realize as a sophomore in college I haven’t exactly peaked professionally (I just finished building out my LinkedIn profile, for crying out loud), but I am doing everything I can to align myself now with that ultimate goal in order to make sure I can bring something worthwhile to the table and contribute meaningfully to a team that could use my own skillset. I thrive in the atmosphere of competition, camaraderie, and a permeating passion for the craft, and I would literally KILLLLL for that job. And by “literally” I mean figuratively kill myself getting there, of course.

I have a deep sense of belonging in the culture of Portland, in the industry of digital marketing, and in the work environment of a hip-and-happenin’ agency that’s constantly moving forward. And I have such a thirst to learn and absorb and simply be in that environment. (Any super-cool dig. marketing agencies out there need a starry-eyed intern? Will work for food.)

…welllll that escalated quickly. My b. Bottom line: Portland has got it goin’ on, and I’m way proud to call it home.



Personal Branding: Why “Playing it Safe” on Social Media is Stupid

Don’t play it safe on social media.

…and really, would it kill you to actually have a picture of your face in your profile? You’re not going to get your identity stolen just because you don’t use a generic cartoon or stock picture of a sunset as your avatar. Really. Relax, dearies, and replace that cute animal avatar with that cute selfie.


Because people appreciate authenticity.

Think about the advice you’d give your friend going on a first date. “Remember, now, never ever let that mask come off so that you seem both 2-dimensional and unattainable at the same time!” No! You’d most likely tell your friend, “Be yourself! Be approachable. Genuine. If the person is right, they will appreciate that and truly understand you better as a whole.” (…Unless you’re a lousy friend, in which case you should probably reevaluate your approach.)

In the same respect, think about the impression you want to make with people who may not know you very well and are probably going to skim through your accounts (twitter, facebook, your blog/tumblr, whatever). We jokingly call it “stalking,” but honestly it’s just leveraging social media to develop a better grasp of who a person truly is. Whether it’s a new follower on twitter or a potential new employer who’s going to be looking you up, embrace the opportunity! Just like you wouldn’t want your darling best friend to show up to their first date with a paper bag over their head and only a pre-approved list of notecards to speak from, you likewise shouldn’t shy away from the opportunity to make an authentic first impression.

single and ready to mingle.

single and ready to mingle.

Not only should you not just shy away from the chance, but you should actually go the extra mile to make that impression count.

You have the opportunity to differentiate yourself from everyone else and truly convey a vivid, colorful portrayal of who you are–so why not take full advantage? Putting your best foot forward on social media and painting an rich, vibrant picture of yourself is not mutually exclusive–it’s complementary.

My challenge? Go forth and differentiate.

Find a way to use some form of social media professionally–especially Twitter, because I’m biased like that (and also because Facebook is dwindling. More on that later). It sounds scary, but give it a shot! I’m not talking about creating a separate, impersonal account simply for professional use–but rather finding how you can leverage a personal account to truly merge your passion with your profession. When the two come together, it’s a powerful, powerful thing.



P.S. Stay turned for my next post in the Personal Branding series: curation creation! It has a play on words so you know it’s gonna be good.

Personal Branding, Part II: Twitterpated

The world is twitterpated about twitter. (For those of you who don’t get the reference, y’all need Jesus. And Bambi.) But at the same time, twitter can get you on the fast-track to being very, very annoying. Here are some quick do’s and don’ts that can help you differentiate yourself on the fastest-growing social network without being a huge pain. You’re welcome.

DO: make your tweets meaningful. That’s tricky to do with only 140 characters, but it makes you even more memorable in the clamor of voices. There are plenty of ways you can do this, but the best is to simply tweet about what matters to you, since that’s what you’re most passionate about. Love sports? Tweet about it, and like-minded fans will follow you. Same goes for politics, baking, struggling college kids, moms, and just about every niche that has a hold in the digital space—just go to town and talk about what you love.

DON’T: tweet too much about mundane tasks. We get it: twitter is your chance to tell the world about what just happened to you or how you’re feeling when it doesn’t warrant a facebook status. But if you’re consistently posting content that never gets any interaction from others (a favorite, a retweet, or a mention), then you’re probably better off saving those precious little nuggets for your diary. I know I’ve said that in a previous post, but I’m serious. Once you annoy followers it’s very hard to win back an unfollower. Use your tweets wisely. At the same time, however…

DO: stay current. Twitter is all about real-time, constant updates. It’s live! Of course you don’t want to be flooding your audience and overwhelming their twitter feeds, but you do want to maintain your voice and stay relevant amidst the constant din. At least 5 tweets a day is a solid number, especially if you can space them out a bit to reach different groups of people.

DON’T: say “twitterverse” or “twittersphere.” Please. Just don’t. You will sound desperate and people will hate you. In fact, while we’re on the topic of what never to mention, please don’t angrily reference someone indirectly through your tweets (infamously called “subtweeting”), talk about the weather, complain repeatedly about something, or post a bunch of self-important tweets. No one will like you and you’ll basically die alone. Or without many twitter followers, anyway.

DO: be pithy and funny. People will be way more inclined to follow you (or at least remember you) if you keep this is mind. There’s nothing wrong with serious tweeting—many do it successfully—but since twitter is such a short, sweet, and limited social media platform, sometimes it’s better to save heavier or lengthier posts for a different outlet (like a blog or facebook post). Try being a little bit sassier, a little bit more opinionated, and take yourself a little bit less seriously. Chances are people will appreciate the humor and the honesty afforded by such a fast-updated medium and you’ll have made yourself stand out more.

DON’T: take any of this too seriously. In the end, your twitter account is yours to do whatever the hell heck you’d like with. These tips, garnered from personal experience from yours truly, will only be helpful if you’re concerned about differentiating yourself with twitter. Sometimes you really just want a personal platform to talk about the most mundane things and if so, then that’s totally fine. In that case, just avoid saying anything really regrettable, angry, or all-around stupid, since other people do notice it and all. Thanks.



Tumblr Greats: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream


Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: Brittons Royal Mixers


Earlier, I referenced Tumblr as a great possible social media outlet for companies to promote their brand and message. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has gone above and beyond.

They’ve used it to establish their brand voice and post much more in-depth about the craft and creativity that goes into their ice cream. And IT LOOKS GOOD. (I’ve got my eye on you, Black Coffee. oh baby.) Everything from updates about company lunches, new merch releases, to snapshots of what’s going on in the kitchen–all in gorgeous full-size pictures. I found them through Tumblr’s featured blog list (the holy grail of Tumblr, basically) and already love what they’re about even though I’ve never tried their stuff. That’s how good their posts are. (Although if anyone’s looking for a Valentine’s Day present, they deliver in all states and ship right to your door. Hint.)

Check it. They’ve got a good thing goin’ on.



Twitter: Finding Sticky Followers

Ah, followers. The greatest success metric of Twitter that can never quite be fully met. Everyone always wants more followers and often resort to shortcuts (black-hat twitter, anyone?) that only end in gaining followers that don’t interact or, even worse, unfollow you shortly thereafter (gasp). The nerve. So I, dear ones, as a certified twitter expert have taken it upon myself to give a few pointers on how to gain legitimate followers–“sticky followers,” as I like to say. You’re welcome, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa.

The main thing to keep in mind is the age-old concept of quality over quantity. While a bigger following on twitter does say more about the strength/quality of your profile, it all starts with a solid base. Once you’ve found your twitter niche and are consistently tweeting about whatever banal-yet-appealing subject that is dear to your heart, you’ll start to grow a following of people who appreciate your content enough to commit to receiving your refreshing little gems every day. Got it? Great.

Next, onto some finer-tuned caveats. If you try to buy followers or simply mass-follow a bunch of people in the hopes that they actually follow through (get it? FOLLOW through? haaaaaha) on the #teamfollowback promised in their twitter bio, you will be sorely disappointed. Alas, my friends, you will only end up with a skewed follower-to-following ratio, an empty interactions page, and an even emptier heart.

Instead, try following only people who have similar interests. Use twitter to network with friends from school, home, and events you attend. Or just take a gamble with random people whose vibes you really like. Use a rhyme and a reason and then do your part to follow up by being a person worth following back. Don’t simply expect someone to return the favor because you followed them first; if your tweets simply become clutter or background noise on a person’s twitterfeed, you’re doing yourself more harm than good.

It’s important to note here that what some people consider “clutter” might be another person’s passion. It can be very relative. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure. For example, I studiously unfollow people who solely tweet about sports or politics. And in turn, I have driven away many a follower with my linked tumblr queue and vague lower-case alternative song lyrics posted at off hours of the night. To each his own.

Anyways, back on track. Once you’ve gotten your tweets and your base group and you’re strategically following people who you actually have interest in interacting with, just keep it up. The quality will do its part here; as you get retweeted more and get other people to check out your account, you will slowly grow that core follower base and expand. And that’s all you have to do! People will begin to recognize you. You will get more followers. …Unless you’re just really bland and vacuous, in which case I can’t really help you out there.

One last word: speaking of your twitter bio, you can use it to immediately influence what people think of your account (and, thus, influence their inclination to follow you). Write something cutesy or witty in your bio. Upload an attractive picture of your face. Even the ubiquitous mirror selfie is preferable to the default anonymous egg avatar. The sky’s the limit! You’re differentiating yourself, so do anything you can to set yourself apart. Being professional is important, but don’t feel confined to just being safe and formal on twitter. Break out your sassy side. Make awkward puns. But most of all, have fun and remember that I love you conditionally.

Happy tweeting!


P.S. follow me on twitter for a guaranteed good clean fun time: @ACaucasianAsian

Beyoncé Is A Genius Marketer And Also A Babe

yay Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s surprise new visual album


…wait, what? That’s right. Not only does Beyoncé look FAB at 32 (and a mother to Blue Ivy no less) but she pulls this one out of her famous, shapely, moneymaking hat. Yes, her hat. What did you think I was going to say?

It’s a stroke of marketing genius. Instead of going the usual route of months of anticipation and milking all she could out of promotional ads, she just drops the bomb and starts a social media frenzy. Seriously. All hell broke loose. It generated 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours (the math’s not very hard in this one, people) and beat even Sharknado in social media buzz. WHADDUP, GIRL.

That’s it guys. I’m done. I’m just going to quit school (conveniently in the middle of finals week) and become a full-time goddess. Okay? Okay.

P.S. Check out all the snippets promoting her “visual album” on her youtube page. I watched all 14 in a row. #noshame

Millennials: We Suck But We’re Also Marketable











Literally, the internet was commercialized the year I was born (1995) so naturally I was just meant to be addicted to twitter and googling all my questions instead of actually consulting a tangible reference.

Sue me.

There’s been a lot of buzz circulating about how millennials are narcissistic, self-centered, vapid (new fav word?) little snots who feel self-entitled to everything without actually wanting to invest any of the hard work and commitment required to go there. While I’m not denying this truth (anyone want to take my finals for me? anyone?), I am here, dear ones, to inform you about the marketable benefits of being a millennial. That’s right! We don’t suck all the time! Ready? Here we go:

1. While being born in the digital age means we are glued to our phones/tablets/laptops sometimes all the time, it also means we’re the most savvy and intuitive when it comes to all things digital. Need to know how to market to the up-and-coming generation? We are literally exactly who you’re looking for. Need to come up with effective social media strategies? We live and breathe it. Need help figuring out Netflix? Call me. It’s like asking a native Chinese speaker to translate for you instead of someone who took a couple classes for their expertise. Millennials innately and intuitively know.

2. We’re super efficient! Granted, we may be lazy butts who balk at the thought of an 8-hour workday. But that just means we find innovative new ways to achieve the desired results with the least effort possible. We’re bright and we’re lazy and we’re damn well efficient at getting stuff done in the least amount of time. Streamlining, yo.

3. We are so lovably self-expressive. When it comes to the digital age, differentiation is key. And we are literally so great at championing our own strong points and packaging ourselves in the best possible light that chances are we can do the same for you! It’s the time to stand out from the pack and do your own thing–and we’re shamelessly proud about it. We can use our incredibly narcissistic worldview to help you rock whatever it is you do best. Most likely it’ll end with creative new approaches and a stronger brand identity. Who doesn’t want a stronger brand identity?

I’ll leave you lovelies with this gem:


Love and Participation Trophies,



Digital Marketing Spotlight: Kate Spade New York

As I’ve been searching for inspiration to learn digital marketing strategy from, I found many different approaches—all good, but for different audiences and purposes. One brand that I constantly go back to is Kate Spade New York—their social media team is incredible, and it shows in the quality of work they post. I’ve always respected them for their catchy, lively Instagram feed, and it turns out there’s a lot of thought behind it.

In Mashable’s interview with Kate Spade’s CEO, Craig Leavitt, he explains their new take on social media:

“Social media is an integral part of how we look at our marketing and communications and consumer outreach, it’s part of our thinking every single day. We have young people who live and breathe social media and are immersed in it every minute of every day. We allow them to lead and trust them in this space.  We are really fortunate that we had already developed an authentic voice and persona for our brand. The Kate Spade girl aspires to lead an interesting life — to engage in the arts and literature and travel and adventure. We talk about those things on social media because that’s who she is, and she wants to hear about what her peers are doing. It feels very very natural for us.”

Rather than simply touting their own brand, Kate Spade has managed to create an entire lifestyle around their products and the persona of the Kate Spade girl: “quick and curious and playful and strong,” reads the Instagram biography. It beams of creativity and liveliness and energy and calls for followers to join in the lifestyle.

Delving into more specific details, Kate Spade also uses each channel for specific purposes, as highlighted in Oak Interactive’s gush piece on them in February of this year. Most intriguing to me are their Twitter and Instagram feeds:

“On Twitter… the tone is more conversational and playful, but still represents the Kate Spade brand. Hashtags are often used to promote a current line, like #artofthedot, or #livecolorfully, a key tagline. Plenty of conversation starters, check-ins, and updates give Twitter followers a little bit of fun throughout the day. Kate Spade uses Instagram to highlight merchandise, the office, events, and fun graphic details in different environments. There is a more personal feel to these images that you don’t get from the other social media channels.”

Andrew Kyle, Kate Spade’s SVP of Marketing, backs this up. In an April 2012 article with Business Insider, he mentioned how when experimenting with Instagram, followers seemed to really appreciate the candid snapshots of the company, as opposed to directly-marketed-to approached:

“We started putting photos on Instagram of fun drinks or cupcakes we had at office parties, and our customers love that. They just want to be a part of it.”

What a fantastic example of inbound marketing! Instead of using social media as another platform to push their products and interrupt their users, KSNY chooses to draw users in to them with beautiful, engaging, fun content that makes them want to live the Kate Spade lifestyle. GENIUS.

This is my dream job right here, guys. Just saying.

Who Am I? Personal Branding 101

Ah, college. The period of all-nighters and existential crises and changed majors as we all face our futures and try to make sense of what we’re all doing with ourselves. Throughout this impossibly messy, tangled journey, we’re all trying to put the pieces in place and look like we have it all together. What are we doing here? Where are we going? How are we growing? It’s a learning process for sure and one that I feel I’ll never fully figure out. Nevertheless, throughout this growth we are all—intentionally or not—employing a marketing strategy in our own lives: personal branding.

I say personal branding can be unintentional because—think about it—we’re always sending messages, sometimes subconsciously, that other people receive and read and use to form opinions about ourselves. What we wear, how long we make eye contact, the firmness of our handshake, if we smell nice or brushed our teeth or not—these are all parts of the nonverbal messages we send out, and they all come together to form other people’s perceptions of ourselves. Whoever said that what we wore didn’t matter since “the inside is what counts” clearly didn’t understand that we dress as a reflection of our tastes and personality. What you don’t say still speaks volumes.

Since we already know we’re trying to brand ourselves in real life, what about in the digital space? How are we branding ourselves online and differentiating ourselves from other people?  In some ways, it’s almost the opposite. Instead of a bunch of subliminal messages, we have to be intentional with the image we are creating and the messages we are sending. The easy answer would be to go to social media—platforms that we all use to at least some extent. (And if you don’t, then you are probably sadly on your way to becoming irrelevant. Sorry.)

To narrow down some of the abundant social media outlets floating around, it’s pretty safe to assume that we all have a facebook page. How do we brand ourselves with facebook, even to the outside world? Our posts/cover photos/shared links are increasingly becoming more and more public as the world gradually gets over the what-if-someone-steals-my-identity-and-kidnaps-me scare. While protecting your privacy online is important, it may be helpful to consider making some of your posts public. Anything that helps differentiate yourself and establishes your personality clearly in the minds of others who want to know—future employers, like-minded friends, internet stalkers, the usual—will only help further solidify your online persona and the image you want to project of yourself.

The flipside: only do this if you post worthwhile things. For example, if it’s something that you’d really rather a potential employer (or worse, your mother) not see, then make sure you watch those privacy settings. Besides the ubiquitous don’t-post-evidence-doing-illegal-things-online advice, the same goes for menial, unflattering, unprofessional, or simply bland posts. No one cares if you “had an awesome day today” or “just made some really yummy pasta :) haha mmmm so good!!” Save it for your diary, which will always love you unconditionally no matter how hopelessly uninteresting you are. If you did something worth sharing about or have something to offer, though, post the heck out of it. Look cool. Be yourself (or at least the marketable parts of yourself.)

Do not do this.

just no.

Do not do this.


chocolate sauce selfie

for the love of all that is good and holy no

Personal branding, yo. It’s science.



P.S. for further facebok no-no’s, I kindly refer you to the ever-great Mashable and HuffPost. Read & avoid like the plague.