My brand is almost 50
Under my email signature I have a small tagline that says "You are your brand. Start acting like it." The truth is, we're all our own brands. Even if you aren't in business for yourself, don't work, are a student, even if you're a baby, you have a defined personality and that personality sends messages out into the world about who you are and what you stand for. I'm not sure how this happened, but my brand is turning 50 in six months. Even crazier, that brand is still evolving.
Nothing is set in stone
While certain things about us might not change (eye color, for example, or rosy cheeks as seen above), who we are is constantly evolving. I really hope that who you were at five years old isn't who you are at 45. The same goes for any brand. Even brands with legacies aren't the same when they first were introduced. Logos change. Values change. Prices change. Products change. Audiences change. And while the core components or values are always there, in order to adapt to the times and address the current needs of customers, no brand can sit back and say, "this is who we are, take it or leave it." Those that have (hey there Blockbuster and Blackberry) are dead.
There's always an awkward phase
Just like our teen years, all brands go through an awkward phase. Most of us don't know who we are out of the gate. It's a soul-searching and fact-finding mission. There's a lot of doubt and resistance to putting ourselves out there. Or even in declaring the type of brand we want to be.
There's fear that we might alienate people.
That we won't be liked.
That we'll miss the mark.
All of these things are likely and necessary. Testing the waters is the only way to know what works, what resonates and most importantly, what feels right. And what feels right at one point, or one year, won't feel right the following. It's a growth process. We need to feel comfortable in our own skin and with our message. This isn't something that happens overnight.
If you never try, you'll never know. Hopefully trying isn't like barrelling over some of the biggest waterfalls in the world (no children were harmed in the making of this very staged image), but you're bound to flounder a few times and maybe fall on your face, or capsize. It's all part of the process. I can't think of one brand that hasn't made a misstep or 20. And that's likely double or triple when it comes to people.
But the one thing I've learned in my almost 50 years around the sun is that when you're true to yourself, you'll never take a wrong step. Warts and all, bad feathered hair, oversized leather jackets and buck teeth, when you know who you are, what you stand for and what matters to you, your brand will be genuine. And that genuineness will resonate with other people who appreciate it and recognize something of themselves in it.
Reflections help us look forward
As I look back on my own growth as a person, and even as a business owner, my voice has evolved. My brand has evolved. I went from a very personality-driven person hiding behind a generic brand, to a very personality-driven person putting it all out there. Even reviewing some of my earlier newsletters shows how much more of myself is in the recent ones. How I was trepidatious and resistant to expressing who I was a couple of years ago. Even I thought professional and personality were mutually exclusive (they're not).
I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that there's been a direct correlation between how much my revenue has increased with how much of myself I put into my brand. And I see this with my clients as well. The amount of comfort that happens when you can be yourself just lends itself to landing more opportunities. You feel confident, secure, relaxed. And clients sense this and are attracted to it. They want to work with someone that knows who they are, not just what they do.
All of us change over the years. Physically, mentally and emotionally.
What we like changes.
Who we like changes.
Who we are changes.
These changes are what make us special.
These changes highlight how far we've come.
How much we've learned.
How much we've grown.
These are our scars and our stripes.
Show them off.
Wear them with pride.
You only have one life.
Don't live it being someone else.
(And come March, you're welcome to celebrate me, in France, on a vineyard. I hope. Or at least at some point in 2022.)
And if you need help with your own celebration...