If I had a rallying cry, it would be something along the lines of “Just be who you are 100% of the time!” I can’t help but believe that blending your true personality into the work that you do will make the world a better place—or at the very least make the desk you work at a better place.
But the problem with bringing authenticity to your brand is if you don’t really know who you are, that will be reflected in your business as vague, confusing, and bland.
Vague, confusing, and bland don’t instill a lot of confidence or trust in your dream customer—and that’s the whole point of a brand. Now, I feel like “vague,” “confusing,” and “bland” are my own worst nightmares, but they can also pose a big threat to your brand. Let’s dig into these monsters a little more and start to unpack how we can keep them out of our brands.
VAGUE: You might describe Vague to a friend as, “You know the one! With the hair. And the mouth! You know!” (Your friend doesn’t know.) Our monster Vague is just too… vague.
CONFUSING: At first glance, Confusing is the opposite of Vague. They’re wearing something very fashion forward that you either absolutely love … or love to hate. Now, this is actually a really great branding tactic and an outward display of authenticity and being who you are. But Confusing’s problem isn’t his outward style—it’s how he talks about how he affords all the clothes (not to mention vacations to Dubai) he buys. Nobody knows how Confusing makes a living even though he’s constantly networking and saying things like, “Call me! We’ll disrupt something together!”
BLAND: Bland is a lot like Vague. If you get seated next to Vague at a dinner party, you might get one-word answers to your brilliant questions or a long-winded work story with all the wrong details and dead-end plot lines. The difference between Bland and Vague is that you’re never trying to describe Bland to your friend. You just never think about them again.
The antidote to all three of these brand boogeymen:
Get specific. One of my favorite ways to get specific in business is to paint a before and after picture of my dream customer. What were their problems before they hired me? How were they describing these problems to a friend? What do they think they need help with? But where do they actually need help? And after working with me what results did they achieve? What will they do next?
Say what you mean. Being authentic boils down to saying exactly what you mean in your style. We see far too many professional creatives hiding behind vague jargon or the same corporate speak everyone else is saying. We see creative entrepreneurs espousing big ideals without really saying anything at all. Try starting your conversations or blog posts with “What I’m really trying to say is…” for a while to bring real conversations to the surface.
Be consistent. When you consistently show up as who you are with your style, specificity, and authenticity, people will begin to trust you. Consistency is what will keep them coming back and evangelizing your brand to their friends.