How to Build a Radically Authentic Personal Brand
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Do you fake it ’til you make it? Terrible advice when it comes to building your personal brand!
There’s a misconception that personal branding is all about creating a curated image of ourselves, and it’s a misconception that needs to be passionately disproved. So many clients come to us asking just that, only to find out that our core value at Brand of a Leader is: radical authenticity. We believe in the undeniable power that comes from embracing your individuality, whatever it may be, rather than trying to channel a disconnected image of yourself.
This misconception is certainly not unfounded. When we think of social media, we think of filters, facades, and image composition exercises. It’s all part of Instagram’s “lifestyle influencer culture,” in fact. For us as thought leaders or opinion leaders, however, it must not have any relevance. Let me prove it to you. Think of a CEO, entrepreneur, or politician you love or loathe. really think about her What do they have in common? I would argue that they are all uncompromisingly real, for better or for worse.
See also: 5 ways to build a strong personal brand
The ROI of authenticity is undeniable: Authenticity means being honest about our values, beliefs and actions. This, in turn, builds trust, which is a core priority of all inspirational leaders. A 2020 Salesforce survey found that 92% of customers consider trust to be the most important factor in deciding whether to do business with a company, echoing Accenture’s 2019 study which found that 81 % of consumers would switch to a more trusted brand. And yet, trust in CEOs is at an all-time low: A 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer study shows that just 37% of people trust their CEOs to do the right thing (down from 49% last year!) and a 2020 PwC study reveals distrust of CEOs at 63% of respondents. Shocking numbers – but an opportunity for us as founding CEOs to build trust with our radically authentic brands.
This should also be welcome news for introverted leaders. I work with many introverts who are reluctant to build a personal brand for fear of being molded into a louder version of themselves that doesn’t match reality. In my previous article, I debunked the myth that you have to be an extrovert to build a personal brand.
So how do we do it? How do we build a radically authentic personal brand? Let me share the five step process with you:
Step 1: Self-awareness
Go through a deep process of discovery to understand who you really are. We cannot be deeply authentic without first developing a deep sense of self. At Brand of a Leader, we take clients on a journey of introspection that leads them to reflect on their entire life journey and all of their most important moments, beginning in childhood.
Step 2: Define your values
Knowing our core values is a crucial step, and I’m talking about the process of uncovering them. A radically authentic brand is rooted in clearly formulated, uncompromising and crystal-clear core values. Some people build their brand positioning entirely around a compelling core value, often something that aligns with their life purpose. While this is not the path you are taking, if you are clear about your values and incorporate them into your content (bio, social media content, thought-provoking pieces, etc.) you will be able to attract like-minded people based on . ) integrate common values.
See also: Why authenticity is a key factor in business success and how to make sure you have it
Step 3: Get feedback
Validate your core values and the key components of your radically authentic personal brand with those who know you best. It can be daunting to receive radically authentic feedback, but it’s immensely helpful. Do you want it to really get real? Ask people to submit their answers anonymously. Use a free online survey tool; Enter the questions and share the link with your network. When people are not afraid to hurt our feelings and are free to express themselves, the level of honesty usually follows. And yes, feedback can hurt at times, but it’s a price worth paying for insight and clarity.
Step 4: Self-Acceptance
In the words of the inspirational Brene Brown, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are and embracing who we are.” A daily practice. Drown out outside noise about what your company dictates to your brand, what gaps in the market you’re watching, and what works or doesn’t work for someone else. Accepting who we really are in this very moment is not only liberating, but essential on the path to building a radically authentic brand.
Step 5: The Right Platforms
When the brand is clear, the next step is to market it. I often see people looking at others and mimicking their marketing plans. Instead, I recommend choosing the platform(s) that feels the most authentic to you: if everyone else is taking TikTok by storm and you’re feeling like a complete con, then it’s not the right marketing vehicle for you. When the world tells you that long-form writing is dead, and you still feel “self” expressing yourself through an intricately woven web of words, drown out the noise and dominate a blogging platform.
One of the biggest fears we have about being radically authentic is that we won’t be liked, judged, or hated online. And that’s true – deeply authentic brands are designed to ward off the misaligned. And yet they’re also wired to magnetically attract a deeply loyal and connected following. This leads to enthusiastic fans among employees, customers and those we end up inspiring.
See also: The strongest thing you can do is be yourself
In summary, personal branding isn’t about creating a curated image of yourself, it’s about embracing your individuality and being uncompromisingly authentic. Trust is a crucial priority for all inspirational leaders, and authenticity is key to building trust. By following the five-step path to building a radically authentic brand, you can attract like-minded people and build trust with your customers. As the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson say, “In a world that’s always trying to make something else of you, being yourself is the greatest achievement.” So don’t fake it until you’ve got it – stay true to yourself and watch your brand shine brighter than the sun.