“I am not what I think I am. I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.” – Charles Cooley
Read that again as it’s a pretty trippy statement. (I too had to sit with it for weeks before I could start to unravel the full complexity of it.)
Yet, this statement, when understood, creates so much relief. Plus, it gives you oh so much power to connect with your true self and real purpose as you remove any facade to show up as you truly are.
Sure, Cooley was talking about our personalities as humans, but I see this in regards to businesses and how we show up in our communities. After all, business IS human, created BY humans, FOR humans. And we, as business owners, often forget that how we are perceived by others is just as important as who we think we are. Our perception of ourselves.
This is why it’s so crucial that we are in alignment with who we think we are and with who others think we are, so we can serve in our most purposeful way.
This comes down to our brand. The nitty-gritty DNA of our business which defines the unique tidbits that make us…us.
So, let’s break this down a wee bit as to where the perception of our business brand comes from. Because, as gorgeous and awesome as logos are; as catchy and eloquent as vision and mission statements can be; they all mean nothing if they are not aligned with those people (yes – PEOPLE) we are looking to connect with and make life a bit easier for.
WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS?
Your brand is your history…no one else’s
It’s your history – why you started your company. The story of how your business came to be and the reasons you believed you had something special to offer. This is what makes you different and unique (hint…quality and customer service are very rarely what do). Your history informs so much as it guides the type of mindset you use, the type of people you attract (both clients and employees alike), and informs where you want to go in the future…and why you want to go there.
No two businesses have the same journey. Therefore, no two businesses can possibly have the same brand.
Your brand is your audience
This is who you are to those individuals you serve, whether it’s individual companies or individual people. Your customers are not the same as your competitors simply because you are different. This difference is what attracts YOUR people…even if it’s merely the manner in which you answer the phone.
When you get clear on this – when this is aligned with the community you are destined to serve – you bring hope. You inspire hope. You become a beacon for what you are trying to accomplish simply by being in business for people who need you, your service or product, and the impact you have on your greater community.
Your brand is your personality
Think of West Jet. Now, think of Air Canada. Two companies in the same industry. Two companies with very distinctive personalities. And these personalities attract very different clientele and employees. Personally, I prefer West Jet because there is often a pun or other form of joke stated by the flight attendants at take-off. Yes, there are other reasons, but their sense of humour is what keeps me coming back (when travel is allowed again).
I interviewed the brilliant Mary Tidlund who shared that she and her three co-founders’ oil company in the ’80s was nicknamed the “rebel of the industry.” Now, “oil industry” and “rebel” are not typically words you would find together. Conservative, yep. Professional, you got it. Rebel? Well…it was this personality trait that made them stand out as a company who took risks, were assertive and remained focused on their goals.
What is it about YOUR PERSONALITY that stands out and makes your business different? I guarantee that it’s not the widget you sell or even the service you provide. After all, many individuals are Certified Dare To Lead™ facilitators via Brené Brown’s work but they are not all successful in presenting the information. It’s who you are and the secret sauce you bring that will be a huge part of your success. Trying to emulate someone’s personality will simply not connect the way you hope it will.
Your brand is your VALUES
Values are NOT fluffy statements to be printed on thick cardboard stock, laminated, and then posted on the walls of your office. Values are ACTIONS that show up in individual behaviours. Ultimately, your values are the lens you look through to make confident decisions. If the values you claim are yours do not show up in your actions, your customers notice and you lose their trust.
Even more, your brand also relies on the values of your customers. Knowing the values that are important to your clients is just as important as knowing which values are important to you. If you do not understand what makes your customers tick, then how will you encourage them to take action to achieve the results/impact they desire?
Your brand is your CAPABILITIES
There is a big difference between whipping up a logo in Canva (or…gulp…using clipart) and connecting with a designer who has the capability to not just listen and understand what you’re looking for, but then delivers it. This capability becomes part of your brand because it is the standards that you hold yourself to that will attract the people you are meant to serve.
Plus, you can say you are the best at something, but if you don’t have the skill set to truly back it up, then that is what your brand becomes known for: false claims of awesomeness.
Knowing your business brand comes down to being an emotionally intelligent business. One that is self-aware enough to know who you believe yourself to be, whether this is aligned with how people see you and know you for, and one who can then self-actualize the true genius behind your business. One who can use this to serve exactly who you are meant to, on a scale where you can have a fully engaged connection with extremely loyal customers who see you, believe in you, and are inspired by you.
Now – who is your business brand?
Not sure? That’s okay? Let’s have a convo about who you think you are…and who your customers think you are. Shoot me a note today!