The question of Authenticity and realness in the process of building a personal brand has been fiercely debated on professional platforms and I even saw videos on Linkedin and other platforms lately openly attacking personal branding as a marketing strategy. One actually said that Personal Branding causes Depression! For heaven’s sake, it does not unless you think or work your way into that depression. Personal branding done right is actually liberating in a way.
Authenticity according to the Oxford English dictionary could also be used to mean originality, genuineness or legitimacy.
This means your brand ought to communicate who YOU REALLY ARE, what you BELIEVE in and what DRIVES you, and later attract like-minded people to you, this is your Target Audience. I also encourage people to also talk about who they WANT or ASPIRE to be. My worry is that people have assumed personal branding to be so much about who they want to be that they forget to put forward who they really are and this is exactly where we, from the eyes of others seem to lose the authentic part of ourselves. What I see online about you and what who you are in person should be consistent. Also remember what people want to hear is what you think, not quotations from famous people, or in the least, what your personal thoughts about those quotations are. I agree that sometimes a lot of the stuff ‘personal brands’ communicate may appear superficial.
Talking about VULNERABILITY, I believe this is the missing link to building an AUTHENTIC personal brand. The truth of a person is in weakness, or so I believe. It is very good to talk positive and to show achievement to encourage others that they can get better. But I believe there is higher encouragement and inspiration in communicating your weaknesses and low moments and how you got through them. This helps to connect with your audience, making them know that you are ‘just like them’ and that you go through life just like anyone. Have you seen posts on social media that you even felt someone would have better not even shared? But I can tell you with full confidence that those are the posts that have the highest engagement than some of the cleverest quotes and posts.
Vulnerability will help you truly connect with your audience; and not projecting a brand that shows you being better than others, always positive, always upbeat… we know this is not true. We are all going through life and we have highs and lows, remember to share your low moments too. I am talking about not only online but even offline, even in your speaking engagements and speeches, remember to share something that makes you a little vulnerable before your audience and see how well you connect and create engagement.
Some people have fallen into the trap of thinking profanity and rudeness will make them sound more authentic, you are WRONG it does not work for everyone. In this area I like to pick out Gary Vee and Dan Lok. These are personalities I follow avidly and whose content I consume. They may choose to be a little over aggressive and controversial in their speech and use a few F words here and there, but they have used the same strategy to filter their audience and communicate their brands to be no-nonsense brands. But if you follow them in their personal lives you’d be surprised to learn that that is EXACTLY who they are, that is how they speak and that is how they communicate. They have carefully studied their audience and their audience loves how they communicate and consume their content with love. This of course will not apply to everyone, so if it isn’t you, refrain from it and communicate in a more respectable manner.
Content and Audience
I see personal branding as a technique for attraction marketing. What audience are you looking to attract with your message? who are you trying to reach? This will guide you to use words and phrases that your audience understands and connects with. Connection with your audience is the meat of the bone in Personal branding. Ensure your language and content resonates with the thoughts and interests of your audience and you will soon see how engagement in your content increases.
Before I sign off, remember it’s not about how many ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ you have on your page or content, it is about having an audience that consumes your content however small, talk of LOYALTY. There is no use having 100k likes but no one really resonates with what you do. You are better off having a few followers who are really a TRIBE. People that love your content and come back again and again to consume. These are the only people you can be able to turn into paying clients and not the thousands that follow but are not really into what you are all about.
Above everything, BE YOURSELF!