Being authentic is an essential part of every practice. Here’s how to maintain your personal brand authenticity.
I recently spent a week’s holiday on North Stradbroke Island. I grew up in Lismore in Northern NSW so I’m not overly familiar with ‘Straddie’ as it’s known here in Brisbane. But after spending time exploring, there were a few things that I noticed about Straddie that make it absolutely unique. The first is how pristine and undeveloped it remains.
Of course there are towns and shops on Straddie, but when you compare it to the Gold Coast or Noosa, it’s still wonderfully natural. Rather than huge shopping centres, or even supermarkets, there are family run gelato and fish ‘n chip shops (featuring freshly caught fish), and a small IGA and corner stores are dotted around the little towns. And there are no long rows of high rises, or mega mansions crowding the beachfront. While there are some large, beautiful homes and rental properties, the island is primarily home to lots of camp grounds, unspoiled bushland and some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever encountered.
The island itself is undoubtedly magnificent – and would certainly have become overrun with holiday homes and high-rises if it weren’t for a few things keeping it authentic to its true nature. So, how has Straddie managed to maintain its authenticity and uniqueness?
No Easy Access
The first is that it’s not that easy to get to. There’s no bridge – and every person, every car, every food item, must come over by boat. This has always been the way – even the first tourists to Straddie more than likely came into Amity in 1935 when Hayles Cruises started up a passenger ferry. This natural limitation creates a unique value in Straddie.
Strength of Local Caretakers
Straddie is also known as Minjerribah and its inhabited by the traditional custodians of the land who are the Nunukul, Nughi and Goenpul clans of the Quandamooka people. In fact, there is archaeological evidence that the Qundamooka people have occupied Minjerribah back to at least 21,000 years ago. The strength and passion of the Quandamooka people has been pivotal in maintaining Straddie’s natural, pristine vibe, which is so unique and well loved.
How to Maintain Your Personal Brand Authenticity (or what we can learn from Straddie)
My time on Straddie got me thinking about what it is that we do, as leaders, to maintain our personal brand authenticity and uniqueness. When you’re growing and evolving you’re constantly putting things on and taking them off. You keep taking steps forward and building in more systems and processes to make things more streamlined or more professional. And you’re trying on this and that to see what works. This can leave you with a beautifully, manufactured public brand. But what do you lose in exchange?
At what point do you take a step back and consider the effects of this carefully curated, overly manufactured role. And one of the biggest effects is that it makes it hard to maintain your authenticity and sense of congruence. And that is what makes you unique and different compared to everyone else. That is what people buy. Nobody wants just vanilla all the time – no matter how beautifully presented it is. Instead, you need to embrace the things that make you authentic, and protect them at all costs. That’s what makes you memorable, and allows you to bring true value to the world.
Determine Your Access
Just like Straddie, you need to consider the kind of access you are giving others. That doesn’t mean not being generous in your offerings, or holding back yourself from your content or, heaven forbid, your thought leadership from your community. What it means is that you can’t be everything to everyone.
I have a friend who’s a copywriter, and when she first started her business she took on every job, no matter how tenuous the connection. But over time she realised that she wasn’t just wasting her time and energy, but her clients as well. She needed to focus on what she was good at, what made her different than everyone else, what made her unique. She diluted her own authenticity by trying to be everything to everyone all the time.
Gather Your Tribe
I’ve spoken before about Dunbar’s metrics (you can read more about that here and here), but in general anthropologist and TED speaker Robin Dunbar, author of How Many Friends Does One Person Need? identified the metrics that create a tribe that will not only survive, but thrive. His theory of Dunbar’s number says 150 is the ideal number of people any one person can maintain relationships with.
But according to Matt Church founder of Thought Leaders Business School, when it comes to the number of people in your tribe, the magic numbers are 15, 150, 1,500 and 15,000. The first 15 people in your tribe are those closest to you – think of them as your tribal elders, the people who help you grow your business. And when it comes to maintaining your authenticity, these are the people that you need to focus on.
These are your advisors, mentors, colleagues and sometimes even your clients who help you stay really tight around your authenticity and congruence. In other words, they remind you who you are and what your values are. And because they embrace you for who you are – your true authentic self – you embrace yourself as well.
Lance Secretan, the Canadian author and thought leader best known for his work in leadership theory and how to inspire teams says, “Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet — thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing — consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.”
- Embrace Your Brand Authenticity. You are the only one of you in the world. Embrace that. Embrace your authenticity and your brand authenticity.
- Gather Your Tribe. Your tribe will keep you true to yourself.
- Tell Your Story. No one can tell your story but you. And letting the world know what makes you unique and different lets them choose you for just those things.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Jane Anderson is a strategic communications expert, speaker and the author of seven books including the upcoming Catalyst Content. With over 20 years of experience helping people to communicate confidently, she is obsessed with authentic influence and human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. She delivers Content Creation Bootcamps (Virtual and Face to Face), Coaching and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.