A Case History on How to Multiply a Singular Brand Identity

Posted By on November 7, 2011

Carla Saulter

Bus Chick Transit Authority, Carla Saulter

We’re all multi-faceted in personality and interests. That’s why picking one facet to emphasize in a personal brand or identity is hard. Think of the task of branding like shining a spotlight on one aspect of your life. It isn’t that you can’t be more than one thing: the point is that you have to become known as one thing (at most two) before you can be known by your wider interests or experience. Try to brand yourself with multiple personas and all those facets will just end up as distant points of light no one can see you by.

Let’s use Carla Saulter as an example of how a brand identity can enlarge over time. In 2005, Carla, a 33-year-old Seattle woman (young enough and hip enough to call herself a chick) began blogging about transit, a topic she cared deeply about. “It was a hobby at first,” Carla says. “Something I was passionate about.” Carla branded herself early on as Bus Chick, Transit Authority. Short. Snappy. Easy to remember. Give Bus Chick a hand for a stellar brand!

Her online profile from her old Seattle P.I. blogging days says,

“Carla Saulter has been living without a car—and using public transit as her primary form of transportation—since March of 2003. Though she gave up driving because of concerns about the detrimental effects of car culture (pollution, traffic, sprawl), the decision has profoundly and positively changed her life. Some of these positive changes include: enforced exercise, time to read, reduced expenses, and contact with her community on a level that would never have been possible in the isolated bubble of a single-occupancy vehicle.”

Fast forward almost seven years of branding herself as Bus Chick, while (in her own words) Carla goes “from a poorly informed transit booster to a full-fledged transit geek.” She starts out writing a blog for the Seattle PI, moves to her own blog at http://www.buschick.com and graduates to writing a regular column on Grist for a wider audience. Carla has served on many transit-related boards and commissions, including the King County Transit Advisory Committee, King County Executive Dow Constantine’s Regional Transit Task Force, and Seattle’s Transit Master Plan Advisory Group. Essentially, the woman becomes a walking… I mean, busing authority on public transit by walking the walk and talking the talk.

Bus Chick’s brand morphs to Bus Mom. Something else happened to Carla that happens to all of us. Carla got older. She married Bus Nerd five years ago and two kids she calls Chicklet and Busling came along. Now here’s the interesting thing about Carla’s brand. Carla is still Transit Authority, but her Bus Chick identity has enlarged to include her motherhood and the passion she feels about being a transit advocate to her little ones. She often blogs about the reality of busing with kids. Example:

    Chicklet: “I wish the bus would do certain things.”
    Bus Chick: “What things?”
    Chicklet: “Take us to Uncle Jeremy’s house right now.”

Now, Carla Saulter is a fine writer with a restless intellect; she branded herself smartly early on and she’s grown up to being a Transit Authority with small children in tow; I’m guessing her identity may morph again.

Will Carla Saulter eventually become Bus Grandma, Transit Authority? It’s not for me to say. But, it’s not a stretch to imagine her becoming an advocate for the issues that affect seniors who can no longer run for the bus.

In the meantime, rest assured that Carla’s singular brand will continue to work for her, while expanding to accommodate her changing life.

May you find an identity that does the same for you.