Whereas entrepreneurship was for the “select few” in the Boomer / Gen X era, starting your own business became the holy grail and a symbol of prestige once the 2000s hit. We wanted to do things our own way, and nothing was going to stop us.
Forging a New Path
In my generation of millennials, having a white picket fence and stable cushy job with 2.3 kids (how do you even have a third of a kid?) no longer impressed our peers. Our priorities have shifted. We want more out of life. We want genuine motivation and fulfillment, and no fancy corner office bought with 60-hour work weeks can give us that.
It’s about finding our passion and purpose…
… despite moving back in with our parents.
… despite driving Uber, dog sitting, and waitressing, all while also building a side hustle.
… despite pouring money into personal, business and spiritual development courses on top of astronomical student loans.
As many embark on their own entrepreneurial journey, discovering and figuring out what that looks like for them, they often turn to those who’ve gone before them for advice and support.
The one thing shared by many so-called experts is the word “brand.”
“Create a personal brand.”
“Create a magnetic brand.”
“Create a brand that speaks to your audience.”
But what does that even MEAN?
And is it really that simple??
The Power of a Brand
In school, a business course consists of multiple subjects. In fact, a school of business in a prestigious university subdivides business into several fields or facets.
In other words, we’re conditioned by the education system to consume so many hours of “learning” to even qualify for a job in any business.
And here are “gurus” on the World Wide Web telling you it all comes down to “brand.”
- The blogger
- The vlogger
- The influencer
- The gamer
- The YouTube singer
- The TikTok comedian
Anyone out there monetizing whatever they do best…
… what do THEY really know about business?
When did they go to school to learn about it?
Why do they have so many partnership opportunities?
How do they simply get a call and a deal is signed?
That, my friend, is the power of a brand.
But What IS a Brand?
When people ask what goes into creating a brand, I often say that it has to be as personal as possible. It’s your message. It’s your values. It’s YOU.
Entrepreneur.com explains it this way:
“Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”
Please note: the more general or diluted it is, the less engagement you’ll get from the audience you’re building, because if you try to speak to everyone then you’ll end up speaking to no one. Believe me, you don’t want to attract every possible client—just the ones who are perfect for you. And the more authentic and personal you make your brand, the more you’ll draw those perfect clients in.
Living in the REAL World
We’re no longer living in a world that demands perfectionism, expertise, and specialization. Gone are the days that people expect to see their idols always in makeup. These days what the market wants is humanity, emotions, and rawness.
The older generations might not fully understand, but today’s market now loves to see public figures in their PJs, or breastfeeding (like New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden), or just waking up with wild bed-head, or doing the dishes, or not knowing how to operate their phones. We like to “keep it real.”
When you allow yourself to show all sides of You, to express your multi-faceted layers, you are giving your audience more to connect with… and inspiring them to allow themselves to shine all of their parts and pieces.
People (the market) want to see YOU. All of you. The victories AND the struggles. The final copy AND the first draft. The dress shirt AND the pajama pants.
And with the #WFH (work from home) trend that’s most likely the normal we’ll be seeing until 2024, everyone can relate to juggling blended roles of parent, CEO, home chef, pet-sitter, and/or tired human all while on a two-hour conference call.
So embrace all of who you are.
Your quirks, your passions, your oopsies, your mundane moments of everyday life… these are your brand. They make you relatable and enjoyable. They will catch the eye of your ideal audience and draw them to you.
And when your audience—your perfect, aligned audience—gets to see these pieces of You? They’ll embrace you, too.