Be Yourself: How to Apply this Super Vague Advice when Designing your Brand
“Just be yourself! Be authentic!” I’ve heard this mantra, in one form or another, offered up to emerging influencers so many times that it’s bordering on a pet peeve for me now. But that isn’t because it’s bad advice. It’s just vague AF, especially for people who are new to marketing anything, let alone themselves. Building your personal brand, whether you’re launching a blog/business or just positioning yourself to elevate your career, isn’t just about being yourself. It’s about presenting and articulating who you are to someone else in a way that’s clear and palatable. THAT PART.
So, I wanted to write a post with some quick tactical tips for how “being yourself” translates to designing a brand.
Your brand visuals should be an avenue for you to really communicate your personality. But you also need to keep in mind some logic and best practices when deciding on visual details like color palettes, fonts and artistic direction. Your personal tastes simply can’t be the sole influence for your brand aesthetics. So, how do you balance “being you” with having a visually polished brand? Here's an exercise I use for my clients.
Avoid falling into the trap of copying your peers or succumbing to visual trends by asking yourself some style-defining questions like these.
Name a song that makes you feel happy, motivated or energized.
What sort of environment sounds like paradise to you? (e.g. tropical beach, winter wonderland, enchanted forest, loft in the city)
As your most confident/comfortable self, what are you wearing?
Questions like these don’t directly correlate to branding or marketing, but they help creatively outline how you see yourself in your most authentic state. These answers help offer some queues for creating a visual representation of your personality. Here’s how I might translate these prompts into visual themes:
Happy Song: "Bed Peace" by Jhene Aiko. Visual Theme: Serene, Refreshed, Calm
Paradise: Coastal Beach House. Visual Theme: Fresh, Summer-y, Neutral
Wardrobe: Summer Dress. Visual Theme: Breezy, Feminine, Soft
Each of these visual themes helps streamline choices like which color choices to steer toward, which backdrops you should book for photoshoots or what the look and feel of your design elements should be. Even this level of direction can be incredibly helpful when you're hiring creative professionals for photography, logo design or any other visual products for your brand.
What you present to people online or on your official brand platform should be an enhanced, polished version of your best and truest attributes. If you start off creating a persona that doesn’t really jive with your tastes and preferences, not only will you grow tired of the facade, but you’ll miss out on the chance to build a real connection with your potential following. Being yourself in branding is about trusting your tastes, sharing those tastes with others without fear of rejection, and finding ways to tell a comprehensive story that unites all the secret ingredients that make you YOU. Now, go forth and be authentic!