“In a world where everyone wears a mask, it’s a privilege to see a soul.” ~ Amanda Richardson
How much do you share of the “real you” with the people around you? Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Or does it take some time for you to warm up to others? In a world where we are 24/7 switched on to technology and to the global community, it seems that many of us are managing two versions of our personal brand identities – the two-dimensional brand identity that is visible online, and the multi-dimensional one that is experienced offline.
The online version of your brand identity is measured and paired back with strategy in mind. Then someone meets you in person offline and they strongly connect with the “real you”. They get to hear your laughter, see you with your guard down, and observe you connecting with others. They develop a deeper connection to you because you show more of your real self. Your fully expressed self becomes clear to them.
Powerful personal branding is about having deep self-awareness that empowers you to show more layers of the real you both online and offline. You feel empowered to be fully self-expressed. I liken it to that of a tree trunk that reveals all these layers of the tree’s history, with tree rings emanating from the inside out; all the way to the outer bark edges. You can literally see the tree’s history and the milestones it has endured.
People are very similar in that we have our outer edges that are more obvious and then we have varying layers of full self-expression that we selectively share. Deep brand identity work is a powerful way of accessing those deeper layers and tapping into what makes us unique.
Much of my psychology and photography work involves future pacing clients to tap into and embody the future version of themselves. When a person connects to their future vision, they are less guarded and more expansive, making way for full self-expression. It means getting out of your comfort zone and asking yourself some challenging questions. It requires you to dive headfirst into a future vision that you aren’t feeling quite ready for just yet. The process helps you get really “real”, super quickly! You are cracked wide open and asked to show a depth to yourself that is confronting and exhilarating! As people step into this process, they peel away the layers of the outer tree bark and explore dimensions of them that are at the core of their value and self-worth.
Transparency + Self-Expression = Greater Trust
When you allow yourself this greater transparency in your personal brand, you build greater trust and credibility with your audience. While the world is getting to know the “real” you, you’re also getting to know yourself on a much deeper level. Your audience will better relate to you and your expertise, which helps communicate your message. Moreover, this can improve your personal brand awareness.
If you’re staying at the surface level in how you express yourself, you are going to need many more touchpoints to connect with others. Your audience will need to consume more of your content for them to understand what sets you apart and how much value you can offer. It will also take longer for you to step into your future potential.
A 2016 study by Label Insight showed that up to 94% of consumers surveyed were more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency, and 73% were willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency. I suspect that those figures have increased since 2016!
It goes to show that our willingness to go deeper and raise our level of self-awareness and personal self-expression can have an influence. It greatly influences the way our audience connects and engages with us online and offline, and how they see our brand identity.
I see this play out all the time while in the studio working with photography clients. We focus on the clothing, the props, the background and the client’s posing. Everything is deliberate. My goal is then to disrupt that moment, break the pose, and access their real emotion within. I’ll purposely take them by surprise with some of my questions. I’ll stir them up. They end up getting out of their head and into their heart. They start to light up and deeper parts of them are gradually revealed!
The music level increases and I start to guide them towards full self-expression right in front of the camera. You can see from the examples below where my clients move left to right, from a ‘nice’ headshot to full-hearted self-expression and on-message!
They transform from being self-conscious and super aware of the camera at the start of the session, to eventually becoming a direct reflection of their greatest future potential!
These people are less inhibited, more self-aware, and let down their guard fully. They are finally in alignment and deeply immersive in the energies of their “future self”.
They are fully self-expressed!
If transparency is the key to building strong relationships with current and future clients, then full self-expression is the only way to meet that need both online and offline.
There are three key ways that you can embrace full self-expression:
- Get creative and playful! As children, we are much better at play and get creative. Adults tend to move away from these strategies over time. Yet, the fastest way to access those deeper layers of us as humans is through play and creativity. It disrupts narratives and allows you to test out different choices.
- Disrupt your well-ingrained narratives. For example, you might say that you’ve always been an introvert, so you prefer your privacy. I know many introverts who find other ways to be fully self-expressed, while also honouring who they are! Find ways to hack and experiment with these narratives.
- Share the deeper, more vulnerable parts of you while also adding value to others. If you are going to share a more personal side to who you are, do so with purpose.
- Reflect on your values and beliefs, and assess whether your personal brand and message are in alignment with those values. It’s easy to get distracted in business and start doing things that aren’t true to who you are, just because everyone else is doing the same. Don’t be afraid to be the contradiction!
I DARE you to tap into the underlayers and reveal the real you.