Vulnerability in Your Brand
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
"Vulnerability in your brand". Even just the sound of it is scary, am I right? But stick with me, I've turned on all the lights and I checked under the bed...the monsters are gone. For now.
Last week as I watched 2021 quite literally tell 2020 to "hold its beer" I was inspired to write a fairly lengthy Instagram post that shared my lack of ability to wrangle focus without harnessing every ounce of energy I could muster. It seemed 2021's grand entrance was already derailing my productivity, and my usual optimistic vibes. If you know me, and saw last week's post, then you know the "vulnerability" of that post was not something you usually see. My content and messaging is always 100% ME, and never forced. If you see a picture of me smiling like a goofball, it's because that's how I felt that day. And if I'm not feeling it, then you won't see it. Plain and simple. But in an instance like last week, when one's "brand" vibe is normally UP, yet you find your energy and human spirit completely DOWN, what do you do? You share it. You allow that vulnerability through, because that is where the connection with your audience strengthens.
And although I TRULY believe this, my organic building of content rarely comes from that "down" place. But that doesn't mean, as a human I don't struggle with it. I've shared on occasion those moments, but what I've learned, and am learning, is that to be truly "AUTHENTIC" (I dislike the overuse of the word but I mean it here), you've got be willing to know how to drop the veil of smiles, and "isn't it all great" even in the face of the world burning. You don't have to fake meditate your way through a "great pause". You can instead share that you feel the flames coming off the fire as it torches away the old "normal" we all once knew.
As you can see, I'm getting a little deep over here. Anyway...back to how this relates to your brand messaging.
All that said, this doesn't mean you have to dive into the weeds either. You CAN have balance if that is the path you choose. And there should be no shaming in that. Many times since March of 2020 I had to work to elevate my productivity, remind myself of my gifts and push my business forward amidst world worries (hello pandemic, hello social unrest, hello political dumpster fires, hello small mom & pop store decimation...hello whatever else has sucker-punched us as a nation, society, and a planet...). I am living on the opposite side of the personal brand fence from some right now in where I keep my own personal beliefs, worries, woes--private (for the most part). It's just a choice. And I'm okay with that.
What I do need to do is keep showing up for you, and for me. To be vulnerable in my brand and let you see that being human in your messaging makes sense (and feels a helluva lot better). You CAN balance the hard weeks where the state of the world and the state of our nation is ripping your guts to shreds without feeling like you have to put it ALL out there. And let me say again, for my beautiful vocal, active solopreneurs and freelancers, you keep doing what your doing. I admire it...because you are being TRUE to yourself through your messaging and letting your soulful spirit shine.
Allowing vulnerability into your brand messaging is not an easy thing to do, but there are some ways to begin to work it in without feeling like you have your heart on display.
1) Ignore Your Content Calendar When Needed: We become so focused on "creating content" and pushing our latest online course, product, service, etc that we forget to share the human element. Last Wednesday it did not feel organic and natural for me to post a reminder to "download my freebie" on a day when it felt like I was about to be living in an episode of The Handmaid's Tale. I didn't care what my content calendar said I was supposed to be posting, that wasn't happening. So drop the planned content on a day when you feel like you have something DIFFERENT to say. Allow your vulnerability in, and your audience will appreciate you for it.
2) Share the Limelight: Your content doesn't have to be the "me show". Don't be afraid to give shout outs to those that inspire YOU. Share helpful links and resources, and acknowledge those that you find are elevating your efforts to do better, be better, and feel better about just about anything. For example, in last week's post I called out Chantelle Davis-Grey, a pretty kick-ass Website & Brand Designer that I follow. I find both her work and her content inspiring. I was completely obsessed with a quote she had recently shared, and there was no way I could not give a shout out to her. It felt GOOD to hand over the spotlight to someone that inspires me. You can do the same. It's an awesome feeling. I promise.
3) Let Your Imperfections Shine: You don't always have to hide behind slick marketing, pretty pictures and inspirational quotes. Yes, I know you paid for that template package off of Canva, but look, sometimes you need to let your flaws fly. Let people IN. Chances are your potential clients and customers feel pretty far from perfect so how will they connect with someone that appears to be everything they are not ALL THE TIME? And why would they want to? I am always drawn to those that show the less glam side of what solopreneur/small biz life is like. I think "ahhh they get it..." and then when they offer something that I feel might help me progress in my own. business, there is an element of trust and relate-ability built in. I know they have been where I have been, and they might know a better way forward. Being vulnerable, real, and open in your content lets your audience in.
So, do you feel comfortable letting people see the human side? Are you looking to find a better way forward in connecting with your audience, a way that feels more organic to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.