What The Hell Is Authentic Branding? (And Why Should You Care)

My focus is on authentic branding.

Helping you visualize your own unique business voice and make impactful connections with the people you want to work with is kind of my jam. I want you to realize that you don't have to act or be a certain way just because everyone else is, even in business. The world wants the real you, with your unique set of gifts. 

I'm passionate about it in part because I've never felt that I completely 'fit' with any of the groups I should be a part of. I'm too creative to be a nerd, too business-minded and analytical for the creative crowd, too free spirited for entrepreneurs, and too driven to make a very good hippie, despite my tendency towards barefoot hiking. 

The thing is though, we're all that multi-faceted and eccentric. If we allow ourselves to bring all our layers together and present as the person we really are, none of us are so single-dimensional that we would just neatly fall in one category. And if we were, how freaking boring would that be? 

Thus the need for that over-buzzed buzz word: authenticity. It's a marvelous thing. It's real. The real you, with all of your quirks and differences. It's necessary, crucial even, for us to grow. It's the ability to express your likes and dislikes even when they aren't cool. It's being unapologetically true to yourself instead of doing what everyone else says you should. 

Authentic isn't being different for the sake of being different. People will see right through that. It's also not a gimmick or sales pitch. Pretending to be authentic just to make a sale is possibly the most anti-real thing you could do.  

Here's the thing. People want to connect with other people, they want to feel like they belong. Having a sense that someone just "gets" you, that they're speaking directly to you, is one of the best feelings in the world. It's also one of the fastest ways to create a lifelong fan/partner/customer. 

Now, you could pick a profitable target market, figure out what they want you to be, then become that. It works. Brands have been doing it for centuries. It's also damn exhausting, especially if you're a one man show, a small boutique, or anyone else without a full marketing staff following the latest trending hashtags. It can also feel a little smarmy, because it is.

The good news is you don't have to do that. Other things you don't have to do are:

- Structure your business the way anyone else says

- Sell products or services you don't believe in

- Dress a certain way/Wear your makeup a certain way to succeed

- Discount/Don't Discount/Raise your prices/Lower your prices just because someone else is

Related: The Art of Being an Unconventional Professional

The alternative that many of us have chosen is to show up to the party in our favorite outfit, talk about what we enjoy talking about, focus on helping people, and believe that the right people will come over and hang out by the snack table with us. 

To put it another way, when you let your freak flag fly (even if your freak flag isn't that freaky) you don't just attract customers. You attract the right customers for you. People that you can help, who feel a connection to you that goes beyond just purchasing your product or service. These are the people who will keep coming back and sharing your name with their friends.

An added bonus is that being yourself tends to weed out the people that aren't meant for you. This might seem like a bad thing at times, but wouldn't you rather work with people who wholeheartedly believe in what you're doing?

Authentic branding is like online dating for entrepreneurs. You're putting yourself out there in the hopes of attracting the right match. If you're an out of shape middle aged man with a heart of gold but you spice up your profile to indicate that you're a buff 35 year old marathon runner... you aren't going to attract people that actually want to connect with an out of shape middle aged man with a heart of gold. Instead you'll find yourself going on a stream of shitty first dates that don't go much farther than "Oh... I thought you'd be taller".

To be authentic online means to be real. Simple as that. In business (and online dating) being real means sharing your unique take on the world, representing the best version of yourself, and trusting that the right people will come along.