One of the hardest parts of self-branding is learning how to remain objective during the multi-step, and sometimes arduous, process. The truth is human nature seems to require us to become emotionally involved in our work, and that is especially true for those who must live their brand identities in a public marketplace. When you are the product being sold, or when you are an entrepreneur who has created a business based on personal attributes and identity, there is little to no separation between the self and the brand. The good news is this fusion creates authenticity and a strong connection with the audience. However, the flip side to this unique situation leads to subjectivity, a very real danger to any growing business.
So, let’s take a minute to discuss actionable advice that will help you step outside of yourself and learn to view your brand with an objective mindset to make unbiased and sustainable business decisions. If you haven’t yet begun the branding process we highly recommend reading, From Individual to Empire: A Guide to Building an Authentic and Powerful Brand. Written by The Brand Management Co. Founder, Laura Bull. This shortlist will undoubtedly help your approach before you’ve turned the first page!
Make sure your mindset is in a positive state.
As author Shawn Achor drills down into his research, he proves that we make better, more rational, and more sustainable decisions when our brain is free of stress and negativity. Here are the facts as Achor points out in his TED talk, and expounded upon in his NY Times Bestseller The Happiness Advantage:
“If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is, your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral, or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, we’ve found that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral, or stressed. You’re 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster—more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral, or stressed.”
Remember, positivity can be the slight edge needed to go from average to an outlier. And this proves why.
Understand that what is true, may not sell.
While you are on your branding journey, you will come across a few key steps that will determine how successful your brand may become in the future. One is editing all your truths, everything that makes you unique, your life experiences, values, and traits, into a palatable product for the consumer. This must be a ruthless activity, leaving many, many truths on the cutting room floor. But, if done correctly, this step will actually double as a lesson in objectivity.
You must cut out the fluff anyways, so naturally, we should cross out traits and values that may prevent the audience from understanding your brand. The goal is to embrace the fact that it is not a slight against you if something you love or something you deeply connect with may not be sellable to your chosen target audience. It doesn’t take anything away from your uniqueness or your life experiences. It just may not be relevant to the product you are promoting.
Giving yourself an outsider’s perspective, namely the consumer, will help you develop an objective mentality that will help keep your brand on track. Pulling the truths together that are important to the consumer will provide long-term focus. Focus not only relieves stress about the brand identity but also protects your ego from negative feedback.
Here’s an outlandish example to prove our point; You may be a killer interior designer, however, if you are a politician, your obsession with textured fabrics does not need to be incorporated into your core brand pillars. Sure, you can pull inspiration from the hobby, maybe a layered approach in design mirrors your layered approach to policy, but design in and of itself needs to be removed from the branding equation.
Asking how your audience will react and what desired effect you hope to achieve by utilizing certain traits and values in your brand will help you remain objective. Most voters consider interior design a luxury, and as a business person looking at the data, you must ascertain how you come across to your audience. In this scenario, are you going to appear too elitist to understand what your constituents need from you?
Of course, your passion for your hobby doesn’t need to be hidden per se, but it doesn’t need to be a public selling point. Accent the truths that matter.
Don’t forget to recognize the bad stuff.
The bad should not be scary. In fact, the bad stuff is necessary to identify where you don’t want your brand to go. Consumer negativity, low sales numbers, the lack of interaction with the brand itself, just to name a few examples, could all be a cause for concern, yes, but should be analyzed from an objective position. You must take the feedback and learn what it is saying.
The social media phenomenon has undoubtedly changed the way consumers interact directly with public figures. In addition to adoration, they receive copious amounts of backlash, trolls, and downright hateful messages. To many, this becomes such a burden that they leave social media altogether to protect their mental health. Unfortunately, doing so cuts off a major source of valuable information that could give the influencer a leg up on the competition.
First, understand that those sending hateful messages are not your core consumer and therefore not your problem. Some may even be computer bots. Hopefully, this mindset will bring back some of those warm and fuzzy feelings. Positive mindset above all else, remember?
Second, if sales are dropping or if the interaction is low from your core audience, then it’s time to fix the problem, not just ignore it. You can’t turn it off and look away if you want to succeed. Where is the disconnect? Is there an authenticity issue or a target audience issue? Has the marketplace changed? What part of your public brand identity is not resonating with the audience? If you know about the Brand Matrix, you can quickly identify the troubled brand pillar and replace it with something that does resonate.
We’re not saying you necessarily need to embrace the bad stuff, but you must embrace how to process the information as data to protect your brand from internal and external factors both now and in the future.
We strongly believe objectivity in the branding process is a teachable trait. By learning to separate the self from the brand, you are not only giving yourself protection against the psychological struggles that many public figures face, but you are also making your brand identity stronger and more indestructible. Take this advice and practice it during your daily business routine. It’ll become a habit soon enough. And make sure you keep these tips in the front of your mind as you embark on your self-branding adventure.