Maybe it’s not a new concept, I’ve seen others address the topic all around me, but to me, the idea of ME being the center point of my branding has really stuck out to me lately. In the past, when I would look at someone’s company, I would think, “I like that style, I like the way they. . .” and then I would think how I could copy it to my own brand.
The #1 Mistake I See When People Try to Brand Themselves
What I have come to realize, not only through watching business people with AMAZING brands (A few brands I’m crushing on: Marie Forleo, Melanie Duncan), but also through helping clients create their own brands is that your brand has to be YOU. If I come at my brand from a place of, “I want to seem corporate and professional” or “I want to look like I have an off-beat, funky feel” then I’m going about it all wrong. What I have to do FIRST and foremost is step back and think about WHO I AM. Being a copy-cat or inauthentic is the worst mistake you can make.
This point was just illustrated beautifully for me in the kids’ movie, “The Croods.” In this movie, a cave family is faced with trying to survive – they must adapt or die. The dad is traditional; he wants to do what is safe, and his daughter’s boyfriend, “Guy,” is innovative, constantly coming up with new ideas. Towards the end of the movie, the dad is in extreme danger, pushed past his limits, forced to come up with something/anything that will save the day. He walks through a cave, with a torch, asking himself, “What would Guy do? What would Guy do?” And then, he has a thought, “What would I do?” And that’s when it comes to him, “I have an IDEA!” By being authentic to himself, he was able to do something he had never been able to do before – come up with a NEW IDEA.
I’m going to use one of my favorite clients as an example (you can see her company and her brand at dentistryitspersonal.com). She has a company that is working to change an industry that is plagued with depression and even suicide.
EVERYTHING she does in her life and in her business is entirely authentic. The colors she chose for her brand she chose because it is HER favorite color. The main color is purple, even though the industry she works inside of is a male-dominated industry. When she recently had head shots done, she made a point to not have all of her wrinkles and other ‘imperfections’ photoshopped out. Likewise, she is making a point to allow her hair to go grey. Why? Because she’s at an age where that’s appropriate and she’s not ashamed to be at that age. She is AUTHENTIC. She knows who she is and it reflects into her brand. Even the words that she uses when blogging or sending out emails, are consistent with who she is offline. I can HEAR her voice through her written words.
This is where a good brand starts. It cannot start from a place of copying others (although grabbing inspiration from others, keeping an eye out for what others do well is a smart idea), it has to come from YOU.
As I have challenged myself to show up as me online, these are some of the things I have realized about myself and want to convey in my brand:
- I am a casual chic. If I tried to sound like I was corporate or “professional” I’d be a total fraud. This comes out in my writing, my speaking, everything about me. It’s also why I chose the font I chose for this sit; it has an informal feel.
- I kick a$$ at what I do well and it shows when you get me talking about those things. I can’t really tone myself down, which is why I may occasionally use words that are a bit colorful.
- I am crazy passionate about online marketing, it totally lights my fire and gets my mind firing at a million miles per hour. Again, let’s talk about it and I’m sure you’ll see for yourself.
- Red was my favorite color since high school, but recently realized I don’t even like red at all anymore. A dark greenish teal is my fave color. In fact, last summer, we repainted my house so that a bold teal color is the main color in my main living area. You will also see that color reflected on this website.
- I am a flip flop and casual jeans kinda girl. When we recently took family photos, I made a point to not dress up for the photo, to wear clothes that you would see me in every single day. When I’m making a point to get good pics taken, I want to look like me, authentically, not some weird, dolled up version of me.
- I am a Colorado girl. We come down-to-earth, practical, outdoorsy, and casual around these parts. It’s a big piece of who I am.
Who are you? Sit back and think about who you are, really, truly, when you’re totally you and not putting on a facade for anyone. How can you put THAT person out into the world via your brand and your business?