Forget Branding. Just be yourself

Ok, so the title of this post might be a little dramatic, after all, as someone who owned a brand design and marketing studio, I fully believe in the power of having a strong brand. 

The problem is that I see so many creative entrepreneurs and small business owners getting hung up on finding or creating the 'perfect brand'. It's probably important to hang out here for a while and discuss what a brand actually is...

In it's simplest form, your brand is how people recognise you. It's your identity. But there is also more to it - your brand is the perception people form of you. When you think of it like that, you realise that you can't solely create your own brand. In fact, your brand is co-created between you and your audience. 

You can attempt to influence how people perceive you - with your website copy, your visual identity and your content but the reality is, people will make their own minds up about you and decide for themselves what you are about. Which brings me to my original point....

You will create the strongest version of your brand by being yourself. 

If you are a coach, consultant, creative, blogger or entrepreneur - your brand and business are fully an extension of yourself. People don't buy your products or services because of your pricing or shiny marketing efforts, they buy from you because they buy into you. They resonate with your story. They trust you. So, if you are trying to create a brand outside of yourself, as a separate entity, you lose that connection with your audience. 

I get it, it's scary to put yourself out there. In fact, it can be knee-trembling, stomach churning, terrifying. But, people crave human connection. We all want to know who we are dealing with, not just what they can do for us. 

When I chat to female entrepreneurs and creatives who are struggling to gain traction, there are three things I often find (and there is no judgment, I have totally been there!)...

1. They are trying to imitate what everyone else is doing - I see this so often. It's easy to get caught up in what others are doing, and think we need to jump on that wagon too. This is the most surefire way to turn potential clients off. 

2. They believe that to be viewed as professional, you must be 'corporate and serious' - I got stuck in this belief for so long when I started my first business. Many of us have come from corporate backgrounds and shifting into a space where we feel able and valid in expressing ourselves can be so hard! That's the beauty of this path however, only you get to choose how you want to play. You make up the rules about what is ok to share or not. 

3. They feel the need to 'reinvent' themselves completely and disregard their previous experience - yep, I'm totally 'guilty' of this one too. I find this particularly applies to the women I work with who are coaches or healers of some description. Going through our own transformation is often the driving force behind wanting to help others and we get so hung up on the new version of ourselves that we forget all the valuable experience we have from our former version of life. All of it makes up our story, our brand. 

How to stop worrying about your brand, and just be yourself

: : Don't do anything that doesn't light you up and make you feel good

: : Don't be afraid to share snippets from behind the scenes or of your lifestyle

: : Do mention your interests. It's likely many of your ideal clients will be interested in similar things. Don't be afraid to mention your love of Star Wars or 80's hip-hop. Give people an opportunity to converse with you.

: : Do make sure your visual identity and online space reflect who you are. If you hate anything pink, avoid using it. If you love glitter, throw some into your brand identity. 

: : Do share your story and past experiences. It's up to you where you draw the line here but give your audience something they can resonate with. Let them know you've been where they are, share your success stories and lessons learnt. 

Understanding that you can't please everyone is key here. Your business or blog will grow when you are clear on who you are. If you own who you are, you'll soon attract those who you can best serve. 

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