I was having lunch recently with a fairly new friend and the conversation turned to identity. Meaning, how we define ourselves and how we think we’re defined by others. I told her that I felt my identity was tied to my ambition and my hustle.
I hear from friends and colleagues. “You’re such a hustler.” “Love the hustle,” Or, even as my Nana used to say, “My money’s on you Danielle.” In other words, I have faith in you, you’ll get it done. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being known for motivation and being a go-getter. Gary V has made his living off of that and essentially branded the hustler mentality. But as my friend so thoughtfully said to me, “Is that really who you are? Is being driven who you are in your soul?
More Layers Than an Artichoke
It wasn’t quite a gut punch and it didn't send me running for therapy, but it certainly got me thinking. Obviously there’s more to me than being a hustler. In fact, we talked about how people are layered like an artichoke vs. an onion (love this!). When you peel an onion it makes you cry, but when you peel an artichoke eventually you find the heart. (aww, barf)
Obviously I have a lot of interests and hobbies that have nothing to do with making money or growing my business. And yet, is this the message I’ve been putting out in the universe? Have I been marketing myself as a hustler and covering up the true message of my personality brand?
In other words, is my brand message suffering from Imposter Syndrome?
A Brand in Sheep's Clothing
I think that most people view Imposter Syndrome as not thinking you’re good enough for your role or not feeling like you deserve what you’re getting. But in this instance it's more about putting out a false narrative around who you are, even if that’s unconsciously or unknowingly. And that can be so detrimental to your brand. If your audience doesn’t think you’re being genuine, or you’re pretending to be something you’re not, they won’t connect with it. Or, worse, the wrong people will.
A lot of this stems from simply being too close to your own brand to talk about it objectively, making it impossible to see it from the perspective of your audience. But it can also be that how you’re talking about it, isn’t actually the core of what you do and what you stand for. For example, you might be a widget company and talk about how great your widgets are. And maybe they're really great. That's 100% true. But is that the message? Is that what you stand for? Perhaps, what your widgets really do is make people’s lives easier. Maybe these widgets simplify something so that your customers can focus on more important tasks. THAT is the real essence of your brand. Freeing people up to do what they’d rather be doing. Removing mundane tasks.
Genuine is the New Authentic
Now, this narrative you’ve been telling might not be hurting you all that much. I don’t think being perceived as driven has negatively impacted me in my work. But it might not attract as many people as it could. If I shared more of my brand essence, could I have more advocates? Would more people want what I can provide and tell their colleagues and friends? Probably. And that's something I'm working on. Not just in business, but in life.
So ask yourself:
Could you be more true to who you are and the value you provide?
What have you been saying that isn’t really what you stand for ?
How can you reveal what really matters?
And, how can you truly express your personality brand at its heart?