“You,” the brand is a smart and effective marketing strategy. It’s branding and marketing that puts the true you on display in order to create connections and engagement with your customers and community. Sounds great, right? Well yes, but only if you’re really doing it right.
Unfortunately people often misunderstand what the essence of this concept truly is. I see well-meaning business owners take the idea and run with it, only to end up a little too perfect — packaged, programmed, and plastic. They’re presenting what they think we want to buy, not their real selves. What a turn-off! That kind of attempt at ‘authenticity’ leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, but can be avoided by truly just being yourself. The things you try to hide about yourself might actually be your greatest marketing tool.
When I first started out I was scared to let potential clients see me the way I felt most comfortable. I dressed and spoke differently because I wanted to be taken seriously and respected. But I didn’t respect myself, and I didn’t feel good about my business. I finally gave myself permission to let my guard down and release the anxiety I was holding onto. I stopped hiding all the ‘flaws’ I saw in myself and let it all hang out. It was the best decision I ever made. All of a sudden I was attracting the clients and community I felt comfortable with and was excited by. My people came out of the woodwork and wanted to be my client because I was like them. They never would have known if I hadn’t just been myself, exactly the way I am.
We all want this kind of authenticity in our interactions and inspirations. We don’t want some pre-planned production with a script and stage lighting – we want to know the real you. We want to hear about all the parts of your business, not just the victories and successes. Seeing someone deal with a setback can be incredibly compelling and can increase our emotional investment in their success. Isn’t that what we strive for? To have a following of people who genuinely care if we succeed and will participate in our success either as customers or promoters.
Here are five ways to find your authentic brand:
1) Know your values and never compromise them, even if doing so might lead to short-term gain. Integrity and authenticity go hand in hand. For me, covering my tattoos felt like compromising my values. As soon as I stopped hiding my true self my business exploded and I attracted tons of clients and supporters who saw themselves in me and wanted to connect.
2) Take care of yourself. Find things that nurture you and make you feel good. This will deepen your sense of self and your self-confidence. When you take care of yourself you feel good, and when you feel good you do great work.
3) Have fun. Life is short and often difficult. Fun and a sense of humor help us all get through. They also happen to be amazing productivity and community-building tools. I can’t tell you how many tough meeting I’ve been in where the mood is turned around by some genuine humor. Exercise your funny bone.
4) Don’t hide your “flaws”. No one is perfect and no one is expected to be perfect. You may be cranky at times, have tattoos, or be an introvert in an extroverted field. Well, guess what? The world is full of people just like you who need your help. Understand yourself — talents and “flaws” — and bring it all to the table.
5) Know what you want. Save yourself the time and energy and skip the opportunities that’ll just make you feel bad about yourself and your work. To the greatest extent possible, only go after opportunities that ignite your passion and stir your soul.
I help heart-forward businesses create thoughtfully crafted plans for growth and sustainability. I love to inspire people to think critically, dream big, and clear out the cobwebs to let in the light and the joy! Wanna leave your soul-crushing job to start your own business? Check out my new book, Work Life Revolution! Laura Burns is one of our licensed Right-Brain Business Plan® Facilitators.