By Donna Gould, Open Heart Creative
We hear buzzwords like personal branding and brand storytelling tossed around a lot. We’re told how important it is to find our brand voice and to be authentic.
But what the heck does this really mean?
In the spirit of Halloween, let’s say it’s about stepping out from behind the mask. Authenticity is having the courage to be who you really are – not some idealized, airbrushed version – and the confidence to know you will attract customers who appreciate that.
A strong brand comes from a place of truth about what a business authentically represents. As a content strategist and brand storyteller, one of the first things I often do with clients is help them understand that it’s okay to say what they think. To tap into the emotional center – the beating heart – of their business and talk about their passion for what they do.
In her book Everybody Writes, Ann Handley says, “At its heart, a compelling brand story is a kind of gift that gives your audience a way to connect with you as one person to another.” Dropping your mask – even just a little – can go a long way towards deepening these connections.
Here are three things to keep in mind if you are looking to build a truly personal brand.
1. Be human. For me, this is the most important aspect of brand storytelling. In order for your customers to care about your story – and keep turning the pages, so to speak – you must be open, vulnerable, and ready to connect with the vulnerability of your audience. This takes work – and for many of us, it takes tremendous guts. You have to be willing to show up as a real person, not as a marketer or a business owner.
2. Keep it Real. Being “real” doesn’t mean sharing your entire life story or pouring your heart out on your website or blog. It does mean strengthening your connection to what you and others value about you. Get clear about the kind of relationship you want to have with your customers, and how you want them to feel after working with you or using your product or service. Give yourself permission to relate to your clients as living, breathing human beings – not a demographic.
3. Get Personal. A brand “voice” is basically the sense of personality or culture that’s projected in a company’s communications. If your marketing tends to focus only on selling product attributes or touting your expertise, think about how you can inject more of your personality into emails, blog posts, or sales copy. Tell a personal anecdote to illustrate a point. Share a problem and how you resolved it, or a mistake you made and what you learned from it. When you own your story and share it without apology, not only will you differentiate yourself from everyone else in the marketplace – you’ll inspire your customers and win their loyalty.
Care to share your personal branding tips? Comment below.