Whether you’ve realized it or not, you, my friend, are a brand.
You don’t have to own a business or even aspire to own one for this to be the case. When God called you into existence as the empowered woman that you are, He gave you all of the wonderful qualities and characteristics necessary to be you. He created your brand. The way you’ve lived your life, publicly and privately, has determined whether you’ve built brand equity or diluted your brand. Are you breathing? No? Ok. Let’s take a few steps back.
First let’s look at the standard definition of a brand. Of course, when we think of a brand, at the very least, we think of an entrepreneur who has a product or service to sell. From that perspective, most people would say that a brand is the name of the product or service that a company owns. Like Tide for Proctor & Gamble. However, the brand is actually what people think of that product or service or, according to Forbes, the “specific perception in customers’ minds concerning the qualities and attributes of each non-generic product or service”. So, in the case of Tide, the brand isn’t the brand of laundry detergent. The brand is what consumers think of laundry detergent. It’s whether we believe, “If it’s gotta be clean, it’s gotta be Tide” or not.
As uniquely created individuals, as women who lead with specific purpose, vision and assignments, we are each non-generic products, so to speak. We advertise the product of ourselves to the world through our actions, reactions and interactions. Each time we act, react or interact in daily situations, we offer an opportunity for others to form a specific perception in their mind concerning our qualities and attributes. Each time, we leave an impression of ourselves with others to form an opinion or belief of who we are or what or brand is.
I know. You’re probably thinking, “We’re leaders. We shouldn’t entertain what others think of us.” As a rule, that is true. What others think about us really isn’t any of our business in the sense that we cannot control how we are perceived of others. However, we can control the narrative by ensuring that those we engage with have the best information by which to form those opinions. We all “have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:6). The gifts here spoken of are the means through which we present our best selves.
By being our best selves, we are offering our highest benefits or gifts to every person we engage with. We build our brand in a way that strengthens our credentials in what God sent us to do. We build brand equity. We establish trust. We establish relationships. We forge opportunities to be blessings to others. This is what we are called to do as women who lead.
On the other hand, in those situations where we do not present our best selves, we dilute our brand and diminish the effectiveness of our God given credentials. Of course, there is always the opportunity to be better the next go around. However, our inability to offer our highest benefits to others in certain situations can not only hinder blessings for us, but also the blessings we have been sent to be to them—to our target or those who would best benefit from our gifts.
So, how do we strengthen our brand if it has been diminished maintain our brand if we have established some good brand equity? Here are three simple steps.
1. Sis, you better recognize!
Recognize that you are a brand. You have an offering. You were created with a gift that only you can give to the world. Even if you’ve seen your gift manifest a million times around you. The vision that you have been given to execute the way that only you can execute it is unique to you. Just as you have a unique gift to give, there are those who are in the exact, unique place they need to occupy to receive it. The first step to being the amazing brand that you are and the amazing gift you are to the world is recognition!
2. Authenticity. Be authentic. Be yourself.
At times, we find that we may have lost our way or forgotten who we are. Or maybe we feel, due to comparing ourselves to others, that we may need to make some adjustments to who we have been in the past. While there is nothing wrong with fine tuning, we should be careful of changing who God created us to be to fit a popular perception or social trends. Our goal as women who lead should be to become the best version of ourselves each day. If we ever lose sight of who we are, we only need to ask our manufacturer or creator for a reminder.
3. Commitment. Stick with it!
As previously stated, as a woman who leads, being authentically you, may not always be popular. Your circles may change often, but you need to stay committed. Look at what happens when the products we know and love decide they need to make ‘personality changes’ to attract new users. Most times, instead of gaining the new users they so desperately sought, their user base drops because the key benefits and characteristics become unclear and the perception of the consumers change towards the product. More often than not, it takes a very long time to rebuild the core audience.
Commit to yourself and stay true to your brand. The universe will thank you!
If you haven’t already, I urge you to sit yourself down and discover all of the wonderful benefits you are to the world. All of the unique points of view, perspective and talents you have to communicate light and love in this world. Then go out into the world, empowered to lead.
Veronica Franklin is a freelance integrated producer and the co-founder and lead designer at vf by design, llc., a branding design studio that creates branding for entrepreneurs with bold vision. @iamvfbydesign, vfbydesign.com