Have you ever felt like your brand just isn’t you?
Like…you you. You’re looking at it, and you know that you are the one who brought this thing to life…yet, you don’t feel connected to it?
You’ve done everything you know how to do, but somehow, you can’t help but notice that there’s a huuuuge misalignment between who you are inside…and who your brand is suggesting you are?
In fact, I spent the entire first year of my business in a complete identity crisis.
Visually, that identity looked like this:
Now, on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this…right?
It’s not ugly. It ticks all the boxes for a decent home page (logo, emotive headline, clarity around what I had to offer, pic of me). Nice fonts, strong colour palette.
All the pieces were there…but to me, it kinda felt – off. Every time I went on my website, or looked at my brand, I just knew it wasn’t reflective of who I really was. Not the person I thought my ‘ideal customer’ wanted me to be…but who I really was.
The person who hadn’t found the courage to be her true self yet.
The person who wasn’t confident enough to just be…and trust that the right people would resonate (and invest in her work).
The person who knew she had something that could truly change people’s lives…but felt safer hiding behind the ‘right’ words, and a cool script font.
There are so many reasons why this brand just is not me. Here are just a few examples:
- I dislike the colour orange. In fact, I dislike bright, in-your-face colours altogether. I chose this palette at the time because I thought my ideal customers would be ‘energised’ by it.
- I’ve never used the word ‘soda’ in my life (we Brits don’t use the word ‘soda’).
- The words I was using didn’t align with the intention behind my brand. When I said ‘Beauty comes from the inside…and so does your brand’ – I didn’t actually know that to be true at the time. I didn’t feel beautiful, and my brand was a cover-up for feelings of inadequacy.
- At the time, I didn’t know what a ‘barista’ was (but I thought my ideal customer would know).
- If someone actually LIKES spiders, I wouldn’t judge them. That’s ultimately their decision.
- “The lights are green, and so is the money, honey!”. I mean…really? Seriously?
- “Those two things, your inside and your outside, who you are and what people think of you, align” – I was focusing solely on the latter half of that equation.
- I actually really didn’t care for that script font. It wasn’t organic enough. It felt too forced, too ‘perfect’.
- ‘Rock it’ – again, words that just aren’t in my vocabulary.
- “Services and packages and plans, oh my!” – there are no words.
- I would never, EVER call someone a ‘mug’. Even in jest.
- And finally – that PHOTO.
Actually, I can remember the day I had those photographs of me taken. It was quite tragic, really.
I thought my ideal customers would want to ‘see me’ (you know…connect with me and all). But I felt so fat and ugly, I didn’t have the courage to book a lifestyle shoot. I remember feeling resentful towards all of these skinny, beautiful solopreneurs who had the most gorgeous photos of them – stunning locations, laughing casually, white teeth, perfect hair.
I didn’t have any of those things. And as a result, I didn’t feel worthy of a photoshoot.
So – I crept over to my parent’s house (almost in sleuth mode, hoping no-one would realise what I was doing), and asked my mum to take some photos of me in the back garden. I’d dyed my hair, bought some bright pink lipstick, and made my cheeks look rosy by using way too much Benetint.
I remember looking in my wardrobe, and not finding anything to wear that a) fit me and b) would be ‘on-brand’. Before I’d even gotten dressed that day, I felt like a failure. Not enough to be a part of this game.
We took the shots, and in over 100 photographs – only three of them were images where I didn’t hate myself when I looked at them.
Branding – at that point – had become an exercise in self-loathing.
The irony was – the more I tried to make people like me, the more I ended up disliking myself.
And the more I disliked myself, the less I put myself out there. The less I put myself out there, the more my confidence plummeted.
The more my confidence plummeted, the more I disliked myself.
You can see how that story went.
Now…fast forward four years. A glance at my website, or any of my branding, will tell you that I’ve been on quite the journey.
On Christmas Day, 2013, I hit rock bottom. (Which, just to be clear, is way different to ‘Rocking it‘, which I most certainly wasn’t).
I realised that the reason my brand wasn’t attracting the kind of people I love to work with was because I didn’t like the person I was pretending to be in the name of branding.
So – I started there.
In a pile of wrapping paper, turkey and tears – I acknowledged that I’d been giving in to fear, and that had to change. I needed to find a way to love myself again. That HAD to be my starting point.
Long story short – that revelation was the moment where my Primary Archetype Test was born.
The only time I’d felt love for myself – and a true sense of knowing who I was – was when I was studying my archetypes. When I was learning about my Alchemist and my Sage (my Archetypal Blend), I felt like I actually belonged somewhere. Like – the world had a place for me, and that place was a place that made me feel good about myself. So that was where I started, and is why my Test has now been taken by over 45,000 solopreneurs.
Personal branding isn’t just an exercise in choosing great colours, or effective imagery.
It’s a test of how well you know yourself, and how courageous you are in allowing the world to see you. All of you.
It’s an invitation to explore your gifts, our strengths, and the little idiosyncrasies that perhaps you’ve only ever seen as flaws in yourself.
It’s an opportunity to dig deep, and reconnect with what makes you so special, and desperately needed in this world.
And the truth is? We are ALL needed – whether or not we say the right words, use the right images, have the hippest clothes, or use imagery that is completely and utterly ‘on brand’.
The world needs depth right now, not shallowness.
It needs connection, generosity, heart and – most importantly – love.
Sure – branding can be about the logo, colours and fonts. These things all definitely help, and are vehicles for us to communicate who we are.
But it CAN be about so much more. And I believe it should be.
If you’d love to create a brand that is a space for you to evolve and expand into as you make your difference in the world (and earn a decent living doing it), you’d love this free workshop I created.
It’s called ‘3 Secrets to Getting Noticed (even if it terrifies you)’. I created it because if I can, I’d like to make the transition between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ an easier, faster one for those who were feeling like I was on Christmas Day in 2013 (now lovingly known in our house as ‘Turkey & Tears Day’).
These are the exact same three concepts I’ve used to create my brand, and bridge that gap between my ‘before’ and my ‘after’. I hope they serve you as well as they have served me.
Ps. No spiders or baristas were harmed in the writing of this post.
Pps. I mean absolutely NO disrespect to the amazing copywriter who wrote a lot of my copy for me back in 2013. I have so much respect for her, and her work is incredible. It just wasn’t me – which was entirely my fault, not hers 🙂