5 tips to ensure the authenticity of your brand
Many of us in business, find it hard to describe our contribution to ourselves, never mind anyone else. When put on the spot we feel self conscious and awkward, almost as if we are embarrassed to publicly own the difference we make. This is often the cause of our reluctance to take the time to fully connect with who we are. Instead we are seduced into focusing on the message we think others want to hear and in the process, lose the authentic juice that drives the whole personal brand proposition.
There are a number of ways of going about building an authentic brand: Strengths finder2 Tom Rath or Please understand me 2; Character and temperament types Keiresey and Bates or you can do it yourself as recommended by Patel and Agius in the Complete Guide to building your personal brand. The first step can be time consuming but doesn’t need to be. I do it with people in one 2hr session. However, you go about it the measure of success is how exited you feel when you connect with it!
Capturing it in words that sing to you
When you are in touch with that contribution, capture it in a phrase or sentence that expresses it. I have helped formulate many, what I call Intutive Personal Brands. For example: 'Walking on sunshine with attitude', 'A free spirit celebrating a strong presence and an uncompromising passion for liberation' or A person who enjoys a challenge with a back story of soul and imagination'. All these epithets, when repeated, trigger a sense of excitement and enhanced possibility.
Owning your contribution
It is one thing to describe it to yourself so you get excited but to keep that authenticity when you want to gain brand recognition, requires truly owning and celebrating these statements. You must believe in the value that your contribution provides. It helps if you can become consciously aware of the relationship between this and the successful results you have achieved in the past. The more you share your successes in relation to your owned achievement, the more you will believe in your contribution. The more you believe it, the more others will.
Defining you target audience
When finding out about what your target audience is interested in, it is easy to be drawn into saying what you think they want to hear rather than staying true to your contribution. However, if you have picked the right audience, there will be a neat way of describing it that fits perfectly with they will want to hear. A senior banker who had been with one bank for 30 years, decided it was time to seek new challenges. Her contribution description was: A self contained and positive force to be reckoned with, getting results through appreciative connection and a powerful intellect. Her self containment meant she was often underestimated. To get the message across, in a way that challenged the surface impression, she described herself as a stealth bomber. This was immediately engaging but also the truth about what she knew she could do, from long experience. She loved it and so did the people she wanted to influence. She now has her ideal role in a challenger bank
Speaking in a way your audience can’t help but relate to.
To do this it is important to find out as much as you can about who you want to influence. If you know about what is important to them, you will know what specific examples you can use to get their attention. You can speak to their current challenges, their future plans and the market place they operate in. Barbara Geraghty has some useful things to say about this in her book Visionary selling. This research will allow you to offer well thought through and succinct examples of how your contribution resolved something that is relevant to the discussion.
If you have done the work to understand and own your contribution, and remained true to it, everything you say will, inevitably have a powerful impact. You are not so much describing your contribution as being it.