Today’s topic is very dear to my heart. I’ve discussed how I came about using the Twitter name “TyrasLilSis” and its influence in a very personal essay I wrote last year, The Truth Behind TyrasLilSis. In that piece, I addressed some very personal details of my life that have greatly contributed to the drive and determination I have that allows me to work hard at making my dreams come true. In relation to the online personality that I have created– which was totally an accident at first– by way of just being myself, I actually never thought that it would become so attached to me as a person. When I’m out at events, people refer to me by my twittername and most times don’t even know my birth name, or so I assume. Now, my birth name isn’t that conventional either, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how much Tyras Lil Sis has become a part of my identity.
“I built my brand by accident. Yes, I literally became “TyrasLilSis” by accident…but now on purpose of course. It merely started as a Twittername that I chose because I always wanted a big sis like Tyra Banks. Until recently, I wouldn’t even refer to it as a brand…it was weird to do so. I’ve since embraced it because I realized just what I’ve done and decided that I was going to cultivate it and stop letting it just “be”. Often times, people will flat-out ask me “Who are you?”, “why do all these people talk to you?”, “Why do you have so many followers?”(Twitter)…and to be honest, it’s still a little difficult to answer. There’s so much more to Sharontina V. Brightman than a twittername and 140 characters… so much more.”- from The Truth Behind TyrasLilSis
Everyone that knows me, near and far, knows that I’m a big supporter of Tyra Banks, and social media has played such an integral role in being a platform that has allowed me the opportunity to meet and work with her on cool projects; something I would have never imagined. I have used the same username since I created my twitter account, before Tyra even joined Twitter, so since day one I’ve accepted it as an extension of myself. In the process of branding, whether it is intentional or unintentional, people will associate you with certain people, places, feelings, thoughts, ideas, and assumptions. All of them may or may not be true, but it is a part of the process that we can’t control, but influence. To check the status of my branding efforts I occasionally ask this question on my various social media accounts, “How would you describe me in 3 words?”. The responses are usually: “Smart”, “determined”, “driven”, “humble”, “funny”, and “Tyra fan”. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but in order for brands to grow and evolve, there has to be a conscious effort put forth to ensure that growth. I am very proud of the personal brand I’ve built and will continue to build, and that it is a true reflection of who I am in all aspects, but truth be told, a name has immense meaning, and it’s time to cultivate and define the one I was given at birth that will carry me into my professional life.
Tyras Lil Sis will always remain a part of me, it’s “adorable”, as 99% of people tell me after they finish telling me how “cute” I am, haha. It’s a little annoying, kind of like when grandma or great aunties pinch your cheeks and tell you how big you’ve gotten since they last saw you. I appreciate it, because I understand that my personality and disposition are often very thoughtful, sincere, and giving in a maturely juvenile way, like grandma raised me to be– so it makes sense. As that is true, in August/September, I will be graduating from Temple University and I’ll soon begin my journey as a young professional. I am excited and nervous for this big transition, and I want to enter it as if I’m turning the page to a new chapter in a book. Just because you enter a new chapter doesn’t mean you forget the previous ones. You build upon them to form one great story, and that’s exactly what I’m aiming to do.
My college experience has been extra special, especially being “Tyras Lil Sis”, and having the once in a lifetime experiences of meeting someone I consider to be very influential in the lives of many young women. I still love me some Tyra, and my social media tone and personality won’t go haywire just because the handle is different, I’m still the same ‘ol me, just taking steps to set up my professional future. I’m growing up, y’all, and this is just one of the first little steps I’m taking to set me exactly where I want to be. When I write my autobiography, Tyras Lil Sis is soooooo going to have its own chapter; chapter 4 or 5 to be specific.
So stick with me, family. This is what branding is made of, constantly evolving to represent your best self by your own rules. A classic saying fits in here, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” In our context, you can claim to be what you want, but if you don’t show that through your branding efforts, it isn’t worth much. I’m excited for this new chapter…
Sharontina B. & Her Brand DNA