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Authenticity vs. Branding

     GutsIsKey Friends; as you know I take on a variety of topics. Topics normally relevant to how I see & deal with the world. This is one such topic that I have learned I must face, to exist rationally in the public domain. I almost used the word Mace, instead of Face & often that is the way I feel about it. This is one of those topics that oftentimes, I wish it would go away but it keeps cropping up again and again. So, since running away is not my style. I will deal with it.

     There is a tremendously powerful influence online to “Brand” yourself.. To identify yourself to a target market in a certain way.  To filter all the content that you would otherwise share with the world through this pre-decided “Branding.” Even this article falls under the context of this influence; since my primary professional target is #sales and #marketing; and these thoughts “fit” that aim.

     But the other end of the spectrum is Authenticity. Being who you are. Letting it all hang out. Sharing things that don’t FIT your brand. ———– How do you balance Branding & Authenticity? Can you? Is this possible?

     This article is by no means meant to be the “declare all,” on the topic and even for me, the jury is still out. However, I have come to some root decisions that work for me in dealing with this Authenticity vs. Branding issue.

     Others are often greatly instrumental in helping me see through thoughts I am “sorting out” in my own head. In this light, I have enjoyed a number of conversations with @MickeyETC on Twitter. She is definitely not conventional and seems to spark controversy. But I choose who I like & she has stimulated me with some great thoughts, especially on this topic. She operates a business by stepping into a virtual realm on the computer. She uses an avatar to present herself on Twitter. The same Avatar, she uses to operate her business. A really interesting person..  {As of today’s date, she is not in the stream. I hope she will return}. Anyway, to the point:

      I saw the following statement on her stream: “It seems that the social media gurus are trying to take a tag “authentic” which should be applied to objects, not people.” Hmmm.. Authenticity in a certain way is really a matter for objects. Is a watch fake or counterfeit. If it is the real thing, it is authentic. So in this sense, Authenticity seems to relate better to objects. But in an allegorical sense, it also really relates to us as human beings. The point I am driving at is: We should be more concerned about who we really are than what we appear to be. That we should really “Be the Real Thing.” Not a put on…. So, for me this authenticity thing is really important, still.

     However, what people perceive is also important. Sometimes in an effort to be real, you can actually communicate things that are not. So, even if authenticity is the primary thing to you; there is still a value in being concerned about branding. In that you want people to accurately see the truth about you..

     Now, we are getting somewhere.. So with these thoughts in mind. I wrote my creative friend to get her take on this whole Authenticity vs. Branding thing. I was sure her “take” on things would be at least interesting. I was not disappointed.

     I asked her,  Ms. Mickey Lets revisit issue of Public Image Branding & Authenticity cause I am struggling to blend the two. Think it can be done? The answer that came back to me was: “I am not sure that we set out to personal brand, it just happens.” Now this was a new angle to me! = Instead of designing a personal brand: Let a brand happen as you evolve your characteristics and strategy..

     This line of thinking fascinated me; so I asked more questions to learn why Ms. Mickey felt this way. Her reply was startling, strong, clear & resonated of quality. She said: “I branded as a nickname in offline world for years. I found that name does not matter. Action matters. Familiarity matters. Consistency matters.”  Wow! That fits my Quaker, Guts, Rough around the edges profile. It is not only what you dress up and demonstrate. More than that it is who you are that causes a Brand to stick. …  And if then, you base your brand on who you really are. Then this reality based idea grows on the value, strength of substance of fact and not just some baseless presentation.

     Ms. Mickey was on a roll. So before I could digest the last point; she introduced another startling proposition.  Regarding integrating various social media resources that one might use; she said: “There is just NO feasible way you can mesh/blend it all….. – it requires a “do one thing & do it well” plan. Wow! & Bingo, at least for me. This leads us back to the importance of the;” Back to quality issue. A better foundation than theory is solid substance.  So, to do this we can: LET YOUR FOCUS BE PLAIN. LET IT BE CLEAR & LET IT BE SIMPLE. My Quaker heart & my marketing brain both resonate with this concept, as a doable idea. 

     Sometimes, when I am fishing; I am looking for the big catch but I will take whatever bites. And with this in mind. When the Whopper bites and the dream catch, really does comes calling. When you would have settled for small fry minnows.  It makes it all the more astounding and gratifying, when the big one bites your hook. And for me: This next point that Ms. Mickey made in our conversation was like catching the big one. “My belief is that authenticity is between you and yourself, and no one else. certainly not something to be scored on the web.”   POW! WHAMMO! There was the prize catch I was fishing for.  

  Building on the words of philosophers:

“I think; therefore I am.” Descartes

“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”  Descartes

 “To Thine own self be true.” Shakespeare

     This branding and authenticity thing is not something that can be prescribed for you by someone else! It is an extremely personal thing. A thing that YOU must think through. A thing that must make sense in your own mind. A thing that must be the product of your own growth, development and personal character.

So here are the points that are plain to me about this topic:

  1. Branding vs. Authenticity is an important matter that you must face, if you want to have an online presence that makes sense.

  2. Branding vs. Authenticity is especially important if you want to develop a professional & marketable profile online.

  3. Both Branding & Authenticity are important points to consider in building your own, online presence.

  4. Branding is filtering your content to approach & identify with a certain public or market.

  5. Authenticity is directing your content to be real with your identity & make sure that a certain public or market place “gets it.”

  6. It is Ok for your understanding of how to balance the two of these to “emerge” , with the development of your online presence.

  7. Quality, Value & Honesty are important in the development of both of these.

  8. For me currently, I think the two can be merged but the jury is still out.

  9. The best way to be on target and synergistic, with both Authenticity and Branding is simplicity and clarity.

  10. Another way to look at this is using a more accurate set of terms. What are your Personal Trademarks?

  11. Authenticity vs. Branding is an extremely personal thing that is best worked out by you, yourself as you engage the topic

    This brings me to one last 

    personal point, I have 

    struggled with, regarding

    This “Branding” issue:

         Last but not least is the matter of Faith & Worship and how it “fits” or doesn’t into branding or authenticity. A- Regarding Branding & Faith; How can you take an infinite God and categorize him into a little box? For faith to be real, The Maker must be in charge of this and not you! However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be a loose canon. The Maker can be trusted, to be in charge of everything. And what He has us do tends to make more sense, than what we would do without Him. 

         So in regards to your “Brand” and faith. Here is the key question: What real things characterize your relationship with God? Be real with these. They are part of who you are, and to have a reality based “brand;: you must be clear about these things.  PS. You do not have to push them down others throats to be real. You can & should be selective and ON POINT, in presenting these characteristics. 

         B- Regarding Authenticity & Faith; God is real. He does not like phony. When Jesus walked the earth, He disliked phony. You will not have any trouble being “authentic,” because you listen to God. As a matter of fact, you will be more “authentic.” Because, He is. Just remember that you are in the market place of ideas & that people will not be open to your ideas, if you are not respectful of theirs. Also, keep in mind that some people are so spiritually minded that they are not earthly good. Don’t be this way! So the last point is:

    12. If you have real faith, it MUST influence your brand & authenticity. Just make sure it is for real   and not for show and people will most times respect you, even if they don’t agree with you. PS. Extend to them the courtesy, of listening to them also.

         In closing this essay on Authenticity versus branding; remember this: Sometimes, in this online world; people act like they are driving automobiles. It is clear that people behave differently when they do not have to face you personally. For me, this mindset is to be avoided. I want to be the same way on line, that I am in life. And if I do this, I will certainly be Authentic. That does not meant that we can not be selective and have to share everything in the public domain. Some uncommon, common sense is in order here. Meditate on how to do that & follow your conscience and good judgement.

         These thoughts are constructive guidelines I am following; as I build a synergistic online presence that will be both authentic:  & brand me for where I want to go; and am well equipped to do. I hope these guidelines, help you to do the same!

SLAM” (Tim G. Carter)

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