Originally published: 13/09/2018 09:56
Publication number: ELQ-86337-1
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Authentic Personal Branding

A video guide to authentic personal branding by George Kao

You have a personality.

You have values that you live by.

...even if you haven't consciously thought about either of these things.

Similarly, you have a personal brand, even if you haven't consciously tried to build it.

Branding is important... but it's often not authentic nor effective. Most people think that a "Brand" is basically these things:

* Your logo
* Your branding colors -- the typical colors you use in all your marketing for consistency & recognition
* Your branding typography -- the font(s) that you use in your marketing
* Your imagery -- the types of graphics you use
* Your taglines -- the few sentences, phrases or words that you keep using in your marketing

These are the external aspects of “brand.”

However, I think that what is more essential, and important for your authentic personal brand, are these:

1. Your truest values
2. Your authentic energy and style
3. Your core message

...especially as these things are juxtaposed (compared & contrasted) with the others in your industry. In other words, what makes you stand out (from other people in your industry) when you look at the 3 things above?

As you clarify this and express it frequently in your marketing, your business starts to feel more fulfilling, you become more memorable (and shareable) by your ideal audience, and you’ll likely start to get more of the right clients.

An "authentic" personal brand is the opposite of "fake it until you make it". Instead, it's about coming to see what is *most* You, and being that highest and best You in your business, as often as possible.

You will stand out in your industry -- not because you're trying to stand out -- but because you've become uniquely authentic and naturally interesting... compared to your peers, who are often trying to copy their mentors or perform in a way that isn't authentically them.

An important disclaimer -- I am not a branding expert. I don’t even have a logo for my business, and I haven’t clarified my branding colors, typography, imagery, or taglines.

And yet, I have all the clients I need, and a loyal and growing audience of people I really enjoy engaging with. Why? I believe it’s because I focus on the essential core of branding (what matters most), which is the inner stuff... and I let the outer stuff take care of itself.

(I do admit, however, that I can do a better job of aligning inner and outer.)

Here are some questions to help you (and me) reflect on the core of our authentic personal brand:

1. When you look at other businesses in your industry, what behavior do you disagree with? What values are not expressed enough, yet are important to you?

For example, in my industry of business/marketing training and coaching, there's a lot of hyped-up promises ("make 6-figures by following my 6-step formula", "easy get all the clients you need in 30 days") which are dishonest. There's also a lot of manipulation with scarcity and fear ("don't get left behind, you must use this new strategy") that I disagree with.

Therefore, part of my authentic brand is to take a stand against those predatory practices, and be a champion instead for honesty and realism.

2. As you look at other businesses, what style do you find inauthentic or unhelpful?

For example, I think there's too much of the look of polish/perfection in my industry. I'm sort of the opposite... casual and natural.

3. What are the practices or values in your industry that you *would* like to be more of a champion for?

In my industry, what I respect is the combination of generosity and humility from the content producers who are doing it from a sense of service, rather than always thinking "How can I use every piece of content to convert someone to become a new client?"

These values are not expressed often enough, and is being drowned out by the tactics based on greed or fear. Therefore, I would like my personal brand to model (if possible) generosity *and* humility, which makes it rare in my industry.

4. By looking at the websites and marketing of the other people in your industry, what personality do you really resonate with, that you feel is also "you"... and also, what *don't* you resonate with?

For example, I don't resonate with the "business guru" -- I don't want to be a guru to anyone. Instead, I hope to come across as a caring mentor, who has been there and done that, and yet is not attached to his followers having to hang on his every word.

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