After many years working in large companies filled with bright and talented experts, I saw first-hand those that successfully built smart and enduring personal brands, and those that simply fell short. Those that endured became sought-after thought leaders rapidly progressing in their careers, while those that fell short remained stagnant and irrelevant.
The real shame is that those that fell short could have taken greater advantage of the resources and opportunities afforded them through these big organizations. They either never made the time, or never made the connection to its value.
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” — Tom Peters in Fast Company
Authenticity in our online presence has been a hot topic for the past few years, but seems to be gaining momentum as of late. Top of mind for a lot of brands, it’s been tossed about on webinars, conferences, blogs, discussion groups, and in numerous media articles. However, the ability to be “authentic” as we engage with our online audiences and in the content we share, dangerously comingles with the same advice on how we garner more attention, fame, and following from our social domains.
While being authentic is a noble pursuit, my fear is that most are far more concerned with going viral, getting retweets, or increasing their conversion rates than they are with what it really means to be authentic. In the same breath of discussions on authentic engagement and brand trust come questions on how to beat the crap out of the competition. This may be the intended end result, but hardly a driver for authenticity in its purest form.
For corporate or personal brands, simply defined, authenticity is consistently being true to what the brand stands for in every single interaction. This includes online and in person, with clients, consumers, employees, and vendors, in the work we do, and in the communities we live and serve.