Why an Authentic Story?
When it comes to building a brand, you absolutely have to start with your authentic story. Without it, how could anyone understand the potential value you have to offer?
Quick anecdote about this very thing…
When I was in 11th grade, I was accepted into a commercial photography program where I was determined to be the star of the group. I spent my junior and senior year learning all kinds of technical skills to improve my manual shooting technique and darkroom literacy. I was proud of the time and energy I dedicated to learning my craft and truly believed I was something special. But when it came time for group critiques, I vividly remember feeling defensive, judgmental of myself and others, and completely let down when no one raved about my body of work. I couldn’t understand it. I knew how to create perfect contrast in the darkroom. I knew that emotional subject matter was a trend that resonated with my peers, so I went with it! So why wasn’t I standing out? Why were my technical skills not enough to win the praise of the kids I was trying so hard to impress?
Looking back on what I now see as necessary life-lessons, I can clearly see parallels between my past-self’s misguided attempts at art and habits that quickly derail even the most well-intended branding efforts.
Here’s why my art didn’t stand out and why so many brands don’t find their wings: lack of authenticity.
I wasn’t telling my authentic story. I didn’t have this language for the problem then, but I had no brand! I was trying to do the thing I thought would earn me the recognition I desired. I was too afraid that my original ideas weren’t edgy enough, that I’d be too vulnerable if my peers knew what I really wanted to say, that I would fail at capturing the beauty I saw around me… and the irony is that I missed the opportunity to capture the beauty I saw because I refused to embrace my authenticity. I didn’t give my peers the chance to embrace my original ideas. Maybe they would have loved them!
The worst part of lacking authenticity is that we not only withhold our uniqueness from our audience, but we rob ourselves of the opportunity to thrive in a way that honors our passion and the reason we do the work we do in the first place.
When we lack authenticity, we also lack:
A well defined vision and mission. The “why” is the motivation behind any operation. If the “why” isn’t there, you’re going to have an awfully hard time convincing anyone they should come along for the ride.
Parameters for what others can expect from us. Trustworthiness in a brand is crucial for its survival. If our audience receives mixed messages, we look unorganized and unsure of ourselves. Reliability is key.
Self-regulating guidelines and standards. When it comes to workflow, it’s much harder to keep a story consistent if the story teller doesn’t know the story by heart. If the story is second nature, less recall is required to reproduce it.
Finding your authentic story requires you to answer a few questions honestly.
What values do you embrace?
What is your end goal?
What problem are you solving and what solution are you offering?
When we answer these questions honestly, we find it’s much easier to tell an authentic story about who we are and why others can trust us. That’s where relationships can begin to be built and a brand can find its wings!
If you’re ready to answer those three questions and ready to embrace your authentic story, I’m thrilled to invite you to reach out so we can have a quick conversation about your passion and what your story might look like translated into a beautiful brand!
Love and Light, my friends!