What’s your brand?

Grammar Girl: geek chic in 2-D. Image from grammar.quickanddirtytips.com.

Grammar Girl: geek chic in 2-D. Image from http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com.

Hungry Girl: purveyor of slimmed-down, cutesied-up recipes. Image from www.hungrygirl.com.

Hungry Girl: purveyor of cutesied-up recipes. Image from http://www.hungrygirl.com.

It finally occurred to me why Grammar Girl kind of bugs me. It’s because her brand comes a bit too close to that of Hungry Girl.

Man, I hate to be critical of a fellow wordsmith. In an age when everyone thinks they’re a writer and few care about doing it well and carefully, vocal word people are more valuable than ever.

So, what’s the deal? Do we really need cartoon versions of ourselves to peddle our wares? Would I get more freelance work if I had a cute illustration at the top of this page that smooths away my extra chin and giant forehead? Probably not; marketing is more than artwork. But I stopped reading Hungry Girl years ago, exhausted by its cutesy puns as well as its pandering to the American processed-food mindset.

Grammar Girl is slightly different; her site doesn’t provide a list of so-called recipes but research that (usually) backs up my hunches in regard to usage. I call on her site as much as I call on any other reputable site. The cuteness doesn’t drive me away so much as it keeps me from sticking around.

I guess I should consider it progress that some forward-thinking editors have gone to the trouble of creating a public persona that doesn’t match the editor stereotype of the introverted, anal-retentive bore. If our digital-age renaissance is to be completely realized, however, we all have to learn how to market ourselves effectively. Bonus points for those who do it without avatars.

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