Clients Want Authenticity – Your Brand Needs to Reflect the Real You

Clients Want Authenticity – Your Brand Needs to Reflect the Real You

We hear a lot about “authenticity” in this day and age – but are we clear on what this expression really means, especially within a business context? 

If we go back to the origins of the word, the Oxford dictionary defines ‘authentic’ as being “of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.”

My take is that authenticity is allowing your true self to come through, unencumbered by social conventions and worries about what others will think.  It is exercising the freedom to express and stand in one’s own truth.  It is about dropping the mask that is holding you back and letting your uniqueness rise to the surface.

For instance, take a moment to reflect back to a time when you saw someone speak passionately about a cause for which they cared deeply and you were moved to tears or had a profound shift or ‘a-ha!’ moment.

What you experienced is that there is no message more powerful than one that comes from a person who speaks directly from the heart. Such an occurrence points to the power of authenticity.

You can harness and infuse this same power into your brand. Contemporary entrepreneurs are realizing that in order to establish a solid connection with clients, we first need to put ourselves “out there” and allow clients to see the real people behind the business – people that can through their services help them to live their best life and to do their best work. To me, that is what business is all about: helping others to shine bright and stand in their own truth with a genuine offer of support, expertise, and a range of products and services.  As in life, authenticity in business helps to establish trust, convey honesty and integrity, and is at the foundation of solid and lasting relationships with clients.

From a branding perspective, it is crucial that your essence and originality be reflected in your logo, your messaging, your collateral, and in every interaction. Talented and experienced graphics designers, like Loreto Cheyne of Lola Design, go beyond just asking what fonts, colors and designs you want on your business card. When Loreto met with me she took the time to really get to know what was at my core and how I planned to incorporate this into my business. She helped me to ensure that I was clear and well equipped to communicate my brand in a way that felt right for me and which would help me to connect with and attract my ideal clients.

Simply put, authenticity is the key ingredient that brings meaning to one’s message. Keep this in mind as you get ready to go out networking, write your next blog or make your next speech. Dig deep and find your authentic message that comes from within – let go of the thought that you need to mimic others or use their exact recipes to succeed.  So the question remains “How do I connect with my truth and show up as my authentic self in my business?”

Here are some tips that have worked for me and for my clients:

  1. Gain clarity on your passions and purpose as they represent the promise of what you can offer to help improve the lives of others.  Being authentic starts with being honest with yourself about what are your true passions. To help my clients gain greater clarity I take them through the The Passion Test®.  This is the #1 tool used in over fifty countries to help people connect with their Top 5 Passions so that they can make career, business and life decisions that are aligned with what is most important to them.
  2. Don’t pretend to be anyone else and always strive to get closer to the essential you. People want to see and deal with the real you – not a knock-off or a reasonable facsimile. Although it is natural to want to be inspired and mentored by those who have come before, it is vital for your business and your brand that you also take the time to integrate and process what you have learned from others. Take the lessons you learned and add your own creativity, experience, knowledge and insights so that you can offer up your own unique mix of products and services.
  3. Understand that being authentic and professional can and must co-exist for your business to thrive. Some may worry “If I act more like myself, I won’t come across as being ‘professional.’” There is a misconception that being professional is about appearing ultra-serious and distant, cerebral and frankly, somewhat robotic. Those who practice this approach have missed the mark on what it is to be truly “authentic!” A sure way to maintain professionalism while being yourself is to always respect and value others and treat them as they would like to be treated. This will create a safe space where your clients and colleagues feel free to express their needs and ideas, and in turn help them to become more authentic.
  4. Have the courage to be vulnerable. Share what is important for you and what you stand for. Be bold and introduce your new ideas with zest and enthusiasm, and not concern yourself with the potential for criticism. Being authentic is about connecting with and serving like-minded people rather than trying to please the masses. Remember that all you need to create a strong niche is the 3% of the market of your target population that are active buyers (www.Stickybranding.com). Trying to please everyone will lead you to diffuse your message, which will in turn impact your ability to be genuine.
  5. Integrate fun into everything you do. Fun is fuel! and it brings us back to what we really want in life: to experience greater joy and fulfillment, and to laugh and have fun. Deep down inside, you know that all human beings, including those who take on the client role, happen to share this desire. Appropriate use of humor and integrating approaches, activities or events that both you and your target audience find fun is a sure fire way to establish trust and connection with your clients at an accelerated pace.

When all is said and done, the irony is that as business owners we sometimes feel that we are not enough and are tempted to fabricate images that we think our clients will like better – when what they really want is for us to be genuine and to be ourselves. So next time you feel that you are not doing enough to impress your clients, remember that your job is to dig up the gifts and treasures that lie deep within and to be yourself, as nothing less will do.

 Lisa Anna Palmer, Making the World a Better Workplace
Since launching Cattelan Palmer in 2011, Lisa Anna Palmer has helped hundreds of people as a career coach, and as a ProActive certified leadership coach and consultant dedicated to helping leaders and employees create inclusive and respectful workplaces. She is also a Certified Passion Test® Facilitator and guides people from all backgrounds and faiths to gain greater clarity about what is most important to them in life and their career. Lisa knows how important work is to each and every one of us – and how it impacts all aspect of our lives. Her coaching and consulting style integrate empathy and practical business sense to identify core needs and recommend solutions that address specific needs and situations. For more information, please visit cattelanpalmer.com

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