Too busy to read this blog...well I’ve got your back friend. I’ve recorded an audio clip, so you can listen to it easily.
Well, you aren’t alone. Authenticity is such a buzzword. And it’s one of the first things I often hear from people who are building a personal brand.
“Kathryn, how do I show up and own my authentic voice so that my audience sees the real me.”
Well...before I share some valuable tips for how to build an authentic brand, I want to share the one thing most people forget about and what it’s actually costing their brand.
I was recently approached by a fairly big brand (multiple 7-figure or so they say in their messaging) who was looking for a copywriter.
They slipped into my DMs saying, “We received your name from someone recommending you as a copywriter. And we are looking to hire someone to write content for us.”
I was eager to respond as you probably already know, I love to write and create content. But not just any content. I love representing brands, organizations, or solopreneurs with a mission, story, and desire to create change.
And from what I could see looking in (what I call the front-facing part of your brand) was a brand that claimed to represent sisterhood, community, sacred space, and connection.
So, I responded, “Thank you for connecting with me. I am delighted about the referral, and I’d love to learn more about the opportunity.”
And then I waited.
A week turned into two and then three. It actually completely slipped my mind until about a month later I received a follow-up message.
“Sorry for the late response. We are still looking for a copywriter. Do you mind writing some pieces for us so we can assess if you are a good fit?”
The pieces they wanted me to write were the following:
An email sequence for their upcoming launch
A blog post
Some social media posts
I have a few issues with this interaction, request, and experience, but since we are talking about authenticity let's focus on that.
Whenever I assess who I want to work with I watch to see if their words match their actions. To me, that’s being authentic.
In this particular instance, something felt off for me. The front-facing part of the brand represented sisterhood, community, and connection, but nothing about this interaction felt that way.
In fact, it felt very impersonal and void of any real connection. It also never addressed my initial comment, “I’d love to learn more about the opportunity.”
Instead, I got a watered-down apology and a request to write a bunch of content for free.
This interaction is part of what I call the back-facing part of your brand. It’s the part of your brand that isn’t fully seen by your audience. And it’s the part of the brand that most businesses forget about until the cracks start to show.
Typically that happens as brands grow and become a big name. Let’s take the recent backlash that Ellen DeGeneres came under after multiple staff members came forward saying that the internal culture is toxic, and doesn’t represent what the world sees - the funny, friendly, and caring celebrity.
I love Ellen, so this news crushed me a bit. But I am not totally surprised.
Most brands spend so much time creating this specific type of appeal for their audiences (aka money in the bank + front-facing) that they forget to create the same culture, look, and feel on the inside (aka money going out of the bank + back-facing).
Another great example is Rachel Hollis. After she announced her divorce she received backlash as well. Now before you respond by saying, “She has every right not to share this with her audience,” or something along those lines, hear me out.
The Hollis’ built their entire brand around being authentic and unapologetic. They asked their audience to show up and own their truth no matter what. And they painted a picture and sold people on how happy and healthy their marriage was and how to keep it that way.
Until one day it wasn’t. But for my married folk out there, you and I both know you don’t wake up one day and get divorced. Most times you hear people say, “It was a long time coming.” Something Dave Hollis acknowledged on social media.
So, when you are profiting off your story but it’s not really that is gross. Not to mention it’s inauthentic. And that’s the last thing you want. For people to feel duped or see you as fake.
What you see is what you get from all angles in your business. How you treat paying customers should be the way you treat your employees (aka internal customers). Basically, don’t have two faces. The culture you portray externally should be the same as internally. No matter who is interacting with your brand, they get the same experience.
This is a hard one I know. It’s not easy for me to share vulnerably so I totally get it. But the more we can share openly about what’s going in our business, the more it allows people to see a real picture of what’s going on, instead of a curated one.
For example, sharing behind the scenes including your failures and successes. And owning your mistakes, and how you are growing on this journey. We aren’t perfect, so a perfectly curated picture isn’t authentic.
Your business (aka brand) isn’t solely built by you. Your people, both your employees, contractors, as well as your audience, make up your brand too. Honor them. Show them gratitude, thank them for being here in a real and genuine way.
Now I hope I’ve shed some light on how to create an authentic brand and the one thing most people forget about.
Comment below and let me know if this resonates with you.