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There are hundreds if not thousands of branding experts who will tell you how to build your brand, mapping out step by step the technical minutiae of effective marketing strategies.
I have done my fair share of homework on the technical things which are important and valuable in branding, but the key pieces of creating a brand are not always talked about or easy to obtain.
Branding isn’t just about technicalities and design. It’s about how you show up in the world with your unique contribution.
What you value most in life and business should steer the ship behind your empire and brand. For me those are things like integrity, authenticity, vulnerability, giving and fun.
This works because your brand is not separate from you. It is who you are, who you strive to become, who others see you to be.
If your heart and soul isn’t emanating from your brand, you are doing something wrong. Anyone can offer a product or service, but no one can offer it the way YOU can.
Here are the key ingredients to building a brand that’s worth it.
For the most part, I am a pretty simple guy. I love sports. I love to have fun, I love music. I love to get to know new people and connect them with others, I love going deep in conversation and encouraging people to step into their greatness. I am casual, warm, strong and I strive every day to become the greatest me there is.
I am usually not the smartest person in the room, so I am not too pretentious (for the most part). I work to convey these things in my brand. Because I can’t be anyone but myself, and neither can you.
Be authentic. People will eventually see through anything you try to fake.
The more vulnerable you are, the more powerful your contribution is. I know this sounds counter-intuitive but let me explain.
People often confuse the idea of vulnerability with weakness when it really is about being true and open. You may not want to reveal your struggles, mistakes, setbacks or secrets because you think you should appear to have it all together. But no one has it all together. The essence of vulnerability is sharing and connecting. If you think about it, all we really have to give the world is what’s inside.
I have gotten pretty deep and raw with my audience, and nothing but good has come of it. People have told me that my opening up was life changing for them. Yes, there are always haters, but brush them off. Chances are if you feel called to share something and it scares the crap out of you to do it, then you must.
Until you get clear on what you offer by receiving feedback from your audience and the people you serve, you will not be able to grow an effective brand. To me, integrity means being true to your word, and doing what you say you are going to do. It means accountability, honesty and consistency of character.
This may be the most vital piece of the puzzle. People do business best with those whom they know, like and trust. Cultivate a solid relationship with your clients and audience by relying on your authenticity, vulnerability and integrity. Listen to their needs and bring them into alignment with your shared vision for their success.
With close attention to the development and expression of your principles and unique voice, you will find that people are drawn less to the appearances of your brand. More and more they will come to you, as Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, for the “content of your character.”