Last week, I had a rant in a facebook networking group for businesswomen. I wasn’t in a good way at all, suffering a bout of imposter syndrome, a brand identity crisis and feeling like my purpose wasn’t reflected in my branding or services. You know, just the trivial stuff.
I was overwhelmed by the support that came back to me in the comments on my post. Everyone knew what I was talking about – they had been there. And they each had their ways of pushing through it.
I don’t usually share this kind of existential business hiccup. Not because of some “keeping up appearances” pretence, but more of a “don’t bother people, they’ve got their own stuff; you’ll sort it out yourself”. Although as one woman put it, “Being in your own head too often isn’t a good thing”.
Following my rant, I heard from some women in the group that my post had triggered much discussion, and my name was dropped at some meetings. How’s that for some anti-marketing?
Part of my dilemma was feeling like my passions and purpose were not being reflected in my brand. So, in all my contemplation, I was curious to see if my passions had changed since the last (and first) time I explored them back in 2004. I dug up my notes from then and discovered that most of the things that fired me up back then still do. I’d just stopped prioritising them, letting life and ‘non-me’ things get in the way.
It’s okay to go against the grain
There’s plenty of advice online about aligning your values with your brand to attract your ideal customer, but I found none of it really clicked. How do you stand out – I mean really stand out? Then I happened to scroll past a “brand archetypes” quiz in my Facebook feed. What the hell! Let’s do the quiz. Or two. Or three. (You can do one of those quizzes here.)
In all three quizzes, I got the same result… Ladies and gents, I’s an outlaw. A revolutionary. A status quo shaker-upper-er.
Umm, no pressure, eh?
Then I got thinking that maybe it’s less about a conflicted identity, and more about: Am I willing to step into such uncomfortable shoes?
Funny how life parallels business and vice versa
Thing is, I’ve always questioned the way things are. Always been focused more on the common good; the big picture. But really … Am I up to the task of shaking things up?
I have no desire to overthrow governments, or even the entrepreneurial game. I really don’t like playing games at all, if you must know.
For me, it’s meaning that matters – even if I risk being perceived as less than professional. (Despite what reality TV would have you believe, image ain’t everything.)
Like recently, when I was on a Skype call with a new US-based client. I’d forgotten to close the office door, so when my partner left for work, he waved goodbye and I waved back. Then I felt I had to explain to the client who I’d just waved to. Next thing you know, our dogs start barking, and then one of them came to check on me in the office, coming into the client’s view.
“I’m such a professional!” I shrugged, laughing. Thing is, I am – down deep.
Luckily, my client’s a dog person and seeing my pooch, got him chatting more, telling me how much he missed his dog back in Australia.
My point with all this?
If I’d shut the office door, I would have also shut out a window into my world, which, happily, sparked a deeper connection with my client. We got to know each other a bit more. And ultimately, that’s what my brand is about – what you see is what you get. My attitude is consummate, conscientious professional. My presentation? A little rough around the edges at times.
But give me raw, rough reality over polished PR-managed perfection any day!
If you’ve had a brand identity crisis, how have you moved through it?
(Photo credit: Virginia Muzik, Havana, Cuba, 2002)