You Are Not Your Brand

You Are Not Your Brand

branding leadership life Apr 05, 2024

If you’ve read anything from me before you might be doing a double take at that title – but I promise there are no typos: you are NOT your brand! 

Yes, your brand is a reflection of you, but it’s not YOU. 

I am a huge proponent of bringing more of yourself into your brand and showing up as the face of your brand. And I know it’s true that people buy from people, and your clients want a relationship with you. But, all of that can be true without you being your brand. 

Following so far? 

Building a brand often feels personal, especially when it mirrors your passions and perspectives. Your interactions, your content, and the way you engage with clients and partners – it's all deeply personal. Clients are buying into a relationship with you, which is why expressing yourself clearly is so critical. 

But it's key to remember: your brand showcases parts of you, but it's not the full picture - it doesn’t need to be a window to every facet of your personal life.

Service-Based vs. Product Based Business Owners

For product-based businesses, there's a natural buffer since customers interact more with the product than the person behind it. But when you're selling a service directly tied to your persona, the question we need to ask is: How much of 'you' does your brand need?

As a coach, healer or other service-based business owner, you are the one showing up everyday interacting with clients, sharing your perspectives on social media, meeting with collaborative partners. 

When someone buys from you, they literally buy time with YOU, they are essentially investing in a relationship with you. So yes, you do need to bring yourself into your brand as a service-based business owner. 

But does that mean you have to share everything online? Does that mean your brand and you are one and the same? There’s so many parts to your personality, interests, opinions (sometimes contradictory), experiences … that could get really confusing. 

Do you share negative client experiences? Failures? Anxiety? Fear? 

Yes, maybe, sometimes … 

Really, it depends on your brand persona.

Let’s look at Amy Porterfield as an example. She both has a clearly defined personal brand, and shares a lot about her personal life. However, she doesn’t share all the messy, confusing, behind the scenes “life stuff” through her brand. Yes, she talks about how she and her husband met and shares their travels, even though that content is completely unrelated to what she sells, but she doesn’t hop on IG stories every time they disagree, or to share her pile of unfolded laundry every weekend. 

There’s a line between her life and her brand – even though she shares parts of her life through her brand.

While vulnerability and showing the human side of your brand does create connection and trust with your audience, you need to be clear about your brand persona and stay committed to sharing only what aligns with that. You need to know your brand message and only share content that highlights the message you want to be known and remembered for.

Separate Your Self From Your Brand

When you are your brand… every failure, every negative comment, can feel like a reflection of your worth and value as a human. 

I get it, as a purpose-driven entrepreneur with a creative spirit, your brand can feel like your baby ... your own unique contribution to this world. It can feel like a personal attack or failure when you receive negative feedback or criticism, a launch doesn’t go as planned, you’re not as far along by now as you thought you’d be, etc. 

But here’s the thing: your brand can still be important to you without BEING you. It’s not a reflection of your worth. 

When you don’t equate yourself with your brand, you can experience challenges and failures in your business without it meaning that you suck as a human. You can have a bad day in your business and still meet your friend for dinner and have a great time because you are worthy just as you already are, separate from your brand.

I've experienced this struggle firsthand. 

For many years, my self-worth was directly linked to my business. A bad day at work meant I was failing not just professionally but personally too. 

This mindset was not only harmful but unsustainable. 

It took time, reflection, and a conscious effort to understand that my value as a person is not measured by anything related to my business; to understand that I am inherently valuable, as are you, for who we are at our core, not for what we produce or create.

This separation is not about creating a divide or putting on a mask, but about constructing a space where your brand can flourish, regardless of the inevitable ups and downs in your personal life. Below are a few insights to help you separate yourself from your brand.

Craft a Consistent Identity

I get it, and I say it all the time… humans, by nature, are complex, multifaceted, and sometimes inconsistent. Our moods, opinions, and tastes change, which is perfectly normal in life. However, sharing every little daily shift and change online can become incredibly confusing for our audiences. So, we need to let our brands exist within an identity, a brand persona, that is consistent, and clearly delineated from our personal lives. This is what allows us to be remembered for something specific and consistent. 

Create Clarity so You Grow and Scale Faster

Clarity is what allows your ideal clients to immediately understand how you can help them get the results they’re after.  While this clarity is inspired by you, it needs a degree of separation, so you can craft your brand's message without the distraction of personal nuances that might not align with your brand goals. 

Feel Confident About What You Share and Don’t Share

One of the most challenging aspects of personal branding can be deciding on what to share from your personal life. When your brand is too closely tied to you as an individual, this decision can become fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. Should you share your failures, fears, or family photos? Will sharing too much—or too little—diminish your credibility or relatability? 

By defining clear boundaries between your personal identity and your brand identity, you gain clarity on what aspects of your life support your brand's message and which ones don't. 

This separation not only simplifies content creation but also instills confidence in how you show up. You become more intentional about what you share, ensuring everything you put out into the world serves your brand's purpose and supports its growth.

As an entrepreneur, especially one with a service-based business, you will always be the heart of your brand. But maintaining a healthy separation between your brand and your Self allows you to be more strategic, intentional, and impactful through your brand.

How to Build a Personal Brand Identity

Building a brand that is completely different from who you naturally are, especially as a service based entrepreneur or coach, would be extremely hard to maintain over the long haul because it would feel unnatural, like you were showing up as an actor in a performance every day. 

So yes, your brand is a reflection of you but it’s a curated reflection of you. It is not you.

Now that we’re clear on that, let’s get into some ways you can build a brand identity that’s inspired by you, but that does not define you. 

Brand Archetypes

In branding, archetypes help define the personality of a brand in a way that's immediately recognizable to people, making it easier for them to connect with the brand on a personal level. Utilizing archetypes in branding makes your message clearer and more relatable to your audience.

They also create the container that helps define what should be shared, and what should be left out. 

As I mentioned already, we are multifaceted humans, and we each have parts of ourselves that resonate with each of the 12 archetypes. But, for the vast majority of us, there will be one or two archetypes that resonate the most with our self expression, and these are what we’re going to use to define our brand. 

This doesn't mean you're oversimplifying who you are, or hiding parts of yourself behind your brand. Instead, you're focusing on aspects that are the most relevant and appealing to your audience, making your brand more coherent and attractive.

This focus is crucial because it helps people remember you. 

But how do you know which archetypes best represent you through the lens of your brand? You take my archetypes quiz! This free quiz analyzes your responses to get to the heart of which archetypes are most prominent in your personality, and reveals which archetypes to incorporate heavily into your personal brand. 

Knowing your archetypes can guide you in shaping your brand's voice, visuals, and overall strategy, ensuring everything you do is aligned with the core identity you want to communicate.

Choose Relevant Brand Values

While your brand’s values will likely mirror your own personal values, they need to also go one step further to support your brand’s mission and vision. 

Let’s take a look at some of my brand values as an example. Some things I value personally are freedom, integrity and embracing imperfection. These can be interpreted in many different ways, but here is how they tie into my brand:

  • Freedom, to me, is a desire to be in control of what I do and when I do it, to be free from worry and self criticism, and to be fully-expressed in my life and business, even if it’s unconventional. In my brand, this shows up as one of my main missions – helping entrepreneurs create free lives and businesses for themselves too! 
  • Integrity is all about acting in alignment with the person I say I am. This shows up in my business through every interaction I have with my clients, community, and partners, as well as in how I show up for myself. 
  • By embracing imperfection I open the door to more meaningful connection, creativity and risk-taking that can take my business to the next level. I help my clients embrace imperfection so they can be free from the constraints that block connection, creativity and risk-taking in their lives and businesses too!

You Might Be Wondering …

Does my personal style need to match my brand visuals? 

Ideally, yes. Your brand will be more cohesive and consistent if it does. For example, when you show up on Zoom with clients, the way you’re dressed and how your office is decorated will make sense with the brand they’ve come to know from your website. 

Can I be vulnerable without undermining my credibility?

YES YES YES! Strategic vulnerability that aligns with your brand's values can enhance your authenticity and connection with your audience. While you don’t have to put your toughest moments on display or share every single detail of your life through your brand, there are ways to be vulnerable that are relevant to your audience, and that fit into your brand persona. 

How do I embody my brand beyond my logo and website?

Live your brand values in every interaction and ensure a consistent experience across all touchpoints, from social media to client interactions. Knowing your archetype can help with this too by showing you the specific ways your archetype embodies your brand from the types of offers you create, to your onboarding process with new clients, to the types of opportunities you say yes to, and so much more.

If I’m not sharing everything, am I being inauthentic?

Not at all. Authenticity involves being true to your brand's values and mission, not sharing every aspect of your personal life. 

In the world of personal branding, remember this: You are the heart of your brand, but you are not your brand. This crucial distinction allows you to create a curated reflection of your values, mission, and style without equating your worth to your brand's successes or setbacks. 

Embracing this separation empowers your brand to flourish as its own persona, distinct yet intimately tied to your essence.

Need help making this happen? The first step is to discover your archetype by taking my free quiz here. 

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