Creating and Managing Your Personal Brand: An Interview With Elle Cole
Last updated: October 2023
For well over a decade, Elle Cole has been a distinguished Patient Leader within the sickle cell disease and type 1 diabetes spaces. Through authoring books, blog posts, podcast episodes, social posts, and more, Elle empowers and inspires moms, homeschoolers, and advocates of children with special needs to live cleverly, changing when necessary. If you take a moment to review her online properties, you'll see that she has a clear brand and takes great strides in presenting herself professionally yet personally.
To showcase a tremendous example of a Patient Leader brand, Elle talks about her brand, Cleverly Changing LLC, in this interview with the Social Health Network (SHN). We encourage you to connect with Elle and review her own social channels through her Social Health Network profile.
To learn more about personal branding related to patient leadership, join the Health Union Patient Leader Certification program on the SHN platform.
Social Health Network: What does your brand mean to you? How does your brand connect to your mission?
Elle Cole: My brand expresses my commitment to ensuring others learn more about sickle cell disease. My brand is my lifeline. I don't live in an area with my family, so I have created a new community online where others educate and support each other.
My brand helps me acknowledge that my daughter's health journey is not 100 percent unique, and others can relate. Last year, when I ran an ad on Facebook and Twitter for my sickle cell caregiver summit, someone reached out to me and told me that she didn't think anyone else could relate. She called me in awe – my business number was posted – and she wanted to confirm that I am impacted by type 1 diabetes, sickle cell disease, and hypothyroidism. I am so busy advocating that I seldom discuss my own autoimmune disease, but she found it. She was encouraged because she has one child with type 1 diabetes, another with sickle cell disease, and she lives with hypothyroidism. In that conversation, I knew without a doubt I was supposed to be advocating worldwide because other people need confirmation that they are not on this journey alone.
Sharing on social media has opened many doors for me, like sitting on the Cure Sickle Cell Community Input Panel for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. I also work as a marketing manager for Cayenne Wellness Center and STAC as a direct result of how I showed up online using my own brand. I am now able to work with others to make a difference on a larger scale.
SHN: How did you choose the name Cleverly Changing? What factors did you consider?
EC: Cleverly Changing is my life motto. The complete phrase I recite to myself is living cleverly, constantly changing. As a caregiver and mom, life will continuously change, but I must take on the joys and challenges cleverly. When I do that, I can make the most of life.
The factors I considered were:
- A name that is easy to spell
- A unique phrase that conveys a positive message
- A name that can fit most social media profiles and that is available across platforms
- A name that is authentic and has an available domain name
How would you explain your brand to someone?
Cleverly Changing is my brand that seeks to empower families to honestly and transparently learn more about genetic disorders like sickle cell disease. The goal is to share real stories from a caregiver's perspective.
What types of content or topics do you share to help solidify your brand recognition?
On my website CleverlyChanging.com, I discuss wellness, personal finance, and parenting. Taking care of my daughter is a lifestyle for my family, not just something we do here or there.
Which social media platforms are you on? How did you choose them?
I chose to be on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram because those were the top 3 platforms where my community sought information.
I joined Twitter first because I wanted to chat with new people. I love that people share what is happening in their lives in real time with only a few words.
Facebook was the second platform I joined. I wanted to build a connection with my blog readers who were of a variety of ages. I receive many direct messages where others connect and share their personal stories.
Next, I joined Instagram because it's a great way to share your story through images and videos. At first, I was afraid of taking pictures and being on video, but over the years, the platform has grown on me.
What is it like to manage your brand on 3 different platforms? Where are their similarities? Where are their differences?
All 3 platforms have helped me hone my story-telling abilities and connect with other families who can relate. I have learned how to juggle all 3 platforms with scheduling tools, so I am comfortable with how much time I spend on each social network.
Instagram and Facebook are similar because I have a similar audience. Facebook is more personal for me because my family can also see what happens in my life as an advocate.
Twitter is my favorite platform. It's short. I like how tweets can be structured as threads, and it's a fantastic way to network and connect with others. I love the conversations there. It's also where I vent or reach out to brands or companies when I have health-related issues. Change happens quickly, and following the trending topics or hashtags related to my communities helps me stay aware of community-centered challenges as they arise.
Twitter stands out to me because it's real-time actions, like live tweets from conferences, webinars, or other events.
Where are your personal boundaries when it comes to sharing stories and experiences with others?
I don't share about my marriage. My husband is private, so a part of my marriage is acknowledged, but only at a high level. I don't share specifics unless my husband agrees to it. I also ask my husband for his thoughts before I share about our children. He and I must be comfortable with what I share with the world. My advocacy focuses on my journey as a caregiver.
My children are now teenagers, so I also specifically ask them for permission before I share about them or post their photos online.
How did you build your media kit? What’s in them?
I built my media kit by accessing my goals, highlighting my strengths, and identifying gaps where I could become a trustworthy resource. I took pictures and asked people for reviews when applicable.
I have 3 media kits: One for public speaking as an advocate, one for my role as an author, and one for my podcast. The sections are as follows:
- About me
- My Objectives
- Services offered
- Contact information
- Professional photo
- Social media stats
- Audience demographics
- Past partnerships (with links)
- Social media handles
- My speaker topics
- Media section (As Seen On)
- Rate sheet
Click here to see an example of one of Elle’s media kits.
How does your media kit help your patient leadership?
My media kit shows that I am a person who fulfills tasks in my community and others are interested in my content.
Have you experienced medical gas lighting?