When strategising, communicating, leading or working as part of a team, it’s tempting to play it safe and do what everyone else is doing. We know the feeling, we’ve been there ourselves. And while it’s useful to look at patterns and structures of successful businesses (we do it at our High Growth Collective and Bare All events), what you’ll notice about successful people is they’re all just being themselves.
Who am I?
Ah, the eternal question. Well, we can’t tell you who to be, but we do know it’s too hard to keep up the pretence when you’re not being yourself. As a business, telling your brand story will help you understand your values and your differentiators, your personality and your objectives. The same is true for individuals.
What’s my story?
Start from the beginning and talk about/write/meditate on/workshop about things like:
- When was the first time you realised you had a passion for the thing you do?
- What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
- What was your first big hurdle and how did you overcome it?
- What is it about your idols that inspires you?
- What’s the most important thing about who you do business with?
- What values do you admire/dislike in other people?
Answering these questions gets you on a path to understanding you motivations and drivers and from there you can begin to understand the personality and authenticity of your business. If the business is bigger, gather your team to tell this story together – the combination of individual stories weaves a richer journey.
What if it doesn’t work?
Often the reason for not being authentic is a fear that the real you isn’t good enough or won’t appeal to the kind of audience you’re going after. If this is the case, take some time to consider who your target audience is and if they’re really the kind of people you want to market to. Your audience, the audience that will follow you to the ends of the earth and, invest in you and share your message – that’s the audience that identifies with the authentic you.
If you’ve based your business on a persona that doesn’t reflect your values and principles you’ll find it hard to maintain the facade. Comms, branding, customer service will all be affected. Customers know inauthenticity when they see it and they won’t stick around for long once they’ve sniffed it out.
Long story short? You’re far more likely to engage and retain long-term clients, customers, followers and investors when you are authentic and transparent.
How can I be authentic in my business?
Knowing who you are and outlining your guiding principles is a brilliant way to set the tone for how you do business, but how does it work in practice?
Tone of voice & brand guidelines
After defining your brand story you can set about creating a tone of voice and ultimately your Brand Language Guide. A brand language guide can include audience persona, key messages, values and style guide but the key thing for authenticity is your tone of voice. Defining the tone of voice to reflect your personality shows everyone how the authenticity of the business influences everyday communications with the world.
Set or revise your targets in line with your values. Is what you’re aiming for in line with the kind of business you want to be? Are you living the principles you set with your objectives? Are you employing people who share or understand your values?
Spread the word
Once you’ve got a brand language guide and values in place, share them with your team and wider business. Everyone needs to be able to speak this language and sharing this info helps to guide everyone in the same direction.
Knowing your values and living that authentic self is also useful when it comes to saying no and overcoming obstacles. Don’t be pushed on something if it doesn’t fit with what you believe or if it compromises your authenticity. Your principles are important to your core audience and by not selling out you’ll win long-term relationships and your reputation will be cemented as good people to do business with.
As always, we’re here to help and if you need a hand defining your brand and key messaging, give us a shout.