After running a Brand Consulting Agency for over 10 years and working with countless entrepreneurs, what always fascinates me is how issues creep in during the branding process and often overlap with issues related to personal development. And an area where people really struggle when developing their brand is authenticity.
By definition, authenticity is simply being real, or genuine. Yet, people often find it challenging to “be real” because they are worried about judgment and ultimately, rejection. There are several ways people get stuck when it comes to developing an authentic brand. Here’s what I usually see happen:
Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.
- People go online and look at their competitors. They see a certain person as successful. They assume they must present themselves like that person or company. Any work they may have done up to this point in developing their brand is then tossed out the window. This cycle can happen over and over again, ultimately leading to stagnation as people become fearful, unsure, or overly critical.
- Another situation that is all too common is when people have an idea of what their presence should look like. Then, they talk to a spouse, a colleague, a friend, family member, etc. and receive feedback. The feedback sways them in the other direction and they lose sight of their original intention. I think feedback can be incredibly valuable, but not if it constantly leads to procrastination or uncertainty. Sometimes, having too many voices in your head is destructive. After all, which voice will you follow (especially if the voices are oppositional)?
- Other times, people start to work on their brand and really feel good about it. As it gets closer to pushing it out into the world they think about their parents, their mentors, and let past conditioning dictate how they should act and look. So, they back track due to fear of judgment. They get stuck on being “perfect”; and that perfectionism trumps action. It takes great courage to be vulnerable.
The simple truth is your brand is YOU. And if you want to work with clients that value YOU, you have to show them the real YOU. Not the you that your parents expect. Not the you that your partner expects. Not the you that society expects. Just YOU, the authentic you.
If you can overcome your fear of judgment, from yourself and others, you will go so much further (in business and in life). Your brand will be a genuine reflection of you and people will pick up on your energy. It truly is about energy and feeling a connection.
And guess what? The people that feel a connection with you and what you have to offer will be the exact people you are meant to be serving.
Trust me! I tell clients this all the time. “Branding is creating a presence that is genuine to your business, yet intuitively feels good to your ideal client.”
The real work in the branding process is tuning into yourself. You have to learn to listen to your voice, even if it is a tiny whisper. You have to know that everything may not be perfect the first time around, but this gives you a great opportunity to fine tune things as you go. You also have to know when the constant seeking of validation is costing you your opportunities to grow. It’s great to run ideas by a few, trusted sources, but ultimately, the best thing you can do is to learn to trust yourself.
If you’re still struggling with authenticity, remember that you don’t have to be perfect to make progress. Start with smaller steps and allow that momentum to shift into excitement. As you feel excited, you’ll tap into your confidence and that will carry you until you’re ready to shine your spotlight in the world!