Why your core brand value has to be authenticity

I’ve spent the last decade designing brands, identities and marketing collateral for yoga studios, coaches, healers, and bloggers. I’ve worked with some awesome and truly authentic clients but also have had the displeasure of witnessing the bullshit that is the business of wellness.

So many brands are struggling to gain market cut-through because they’re perceived as liars and frauds (healthy options at MacDonalds anyone, yeah right!). Wellness peeps are all passionate about their work and being of service need to keep showing up in the world in the most authentic way possible. But this often involves saying things that people don’t like, being brutally honest and standing by your core values. Authenticity is hard because going with the norm is so much easier. But who wants to go with the norm, right?

We’re all saturated with choice and have limited capacity, time and inclination to listen and engage with a multitude of similar-ish brands, bloggers and yoga teachers. Consumers are searching for greater meaning and a sense of sincerity, trust and honesty from the brands (and people) that they’re backing.

“The authentic self is the soul made visible” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Individuals are naturally drawn towards brands that offer a unique story, have an engaging persona and who constantly deliver against their key brand benefit (KBB) in an honest and sincere way.

I don’t want to read 3 blogs laced with Rumi quotes and green smoothie recipes. It’s boring and a total waste of my time. I want something that’s real and something of value.

I want to know the face behind the brand.

So tell me your darkness, show me your light, share your joys and failures with your tribe. But please don’t insult the intelligence of your audience by feeding them mainstream feel-good rubbish or just telling them what your think they want to hear.

  • Authenticity takes guts and courage.
  • Authenticity is uncomfortable.
  • Authenticity means you practice what you preach.
  • But authenticity fuels success and engagement like nobodies business.
Here’s how to get it:
  1. Share your (individual) storyEveryone loves a good story. Share yours. Not your neighbors, not another coach or bloggers but YOURS. Be honest, admit when you messed up and share your wins. All stories need to genuine and grounded in truth.
  1. Take a stand – You need to stand for something. Are you a rebel with a big heart, a clean-living ex party girl or a corporate gun? Take a stand and rise up. Declare your beliefs and shout ‘em loud and proud.
  1. Have a unique voice – Are you a little bit serious or a little more fun? Do you pepper your conversations with swear words and blasphemy? Are you passionate or polite? Say it how you mean it. It’s the imperfections and idiosyncrasies that keep a brand interesting and meaningful to their audience.
  1. Have a vision – What is your business truly about? What type of legacy do you want to leave? How do you want people to feel? This is your vision for yourself and your brand, and this vision should be at the heart of everything you do.
  1. SWOT it out – A SWOT (or situational analysis) is a planning method that helps you evaluate the internal factors ie strengths and weaknesses and the external factors ie the opportunities and threats to your business and brand. Through an honest and detailed self-assessment you can find new ways to grow your brand and pinpoint potential growth areas.
  2. Be Transparent – In an age where everything is searchable and half our lives are shared on social media we have to be transparent (Belle Gibson missed this one). Be honest with your audience and don’t just pitch the shiniest version of yourself – be real. Admit to having bad days, feeling vulnerable or making a mistake. Trust me, your audience will like you better for it.
  3. Innovate – Brands (and people) who lack creativity paired with gusto tend to become “me too” or follower brands. Do not do this. Don’t just rest on your laurels look at doing things differently. Become a leader in your craft.
  4. Know your audience, build personas – In UX design brands create personas or a series of profiles (suggest 3-5) to help them know and relate to different segments of their audience. Persona profiles often include age, demographics, goals, needs, wants, challenges and values. They are based on both qualitative and quantitative data matched with user research that help shape and drive the activity and functions of the brand.
  5. Educate – Invest in yourself and keep on learning. Your personal growth and development will lead to the success of your brand.
  1. Be consistent, passionate and sincere – Keep delivering on your promises and sharing your love, gifts and vision with the word.
 “The most exhausting thing you can do is to be inauthentic” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Like yourself, your brand will grow and evolve in time. What you said, did or loved might be drastically different in 6 months time. Authenticity means taking your audience on your journey and making them a part of the story.

It means showing up, taking a stand and doing your best in every moment. It can be scary at times but its truly is the only viable option.

Adapted version also published for Inspired Coach Magazine.

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