If you're building a personal brand with professional aspirations (and who isn't), you'll find yourself facing tough calls, compromises and identity crises along the way. There are times when you'll feel like a fraud; putting forth a disingenuous facade, and uncomfortable in your own skin. This is called imposter syndrome. It's an incredibly normal and increasingly common challenge to building a personal brand. Here are 4 tips to ensure it doesn't get you down.
1. Hit the eject button on the idea that you need to be on every platform
It's important to have a sustainable branding effort where you can stay sane and put forth your best effort. Spreading your efforts across too many platforms is a sure fire way to cripple production and drive yourself crazy. Consider limiting yourself to two platforms, one of which should be your own website. The other should be whichever platform is best suited for your goals and audience. This puts you in a position of greater control, creativity and value, while freeing you up to put forth a more masterful effort without spreading yourself too thin.
2. Frame your brand with a superhero mindset
To avoid burnout from the stress during moments of identity crisis, it's important to distinguish between you the person, and you the brand. One way to help wrap your head around this challenge is to think of your personal brand like a superhero identity. Every time you step up to the mic, stage, camera, or keyboard, in that moment, you are the superhero self. You are that symbol, standing for something bigger than yourself. Though at times, this may conflict with your individual desires. Use your discipline and commitment to push those desires aside in service to your greater goal, the sacred idea, the company and community who believes in you. If you can remind yourself that you dawn the cape and cowl in service to your greater purpose, you are more likely to remember that though it's an important part of you, it's not all of you. This will help you stay clear and focused while maintaining positive friction with your personal brand.
3. Avoid the perfection trap by being the flag bearer for the bigger brand
Don't create a fragile brand by positioning on perfection or absolutes. Training your audience to expect absolute adherence to extremes, perfect execution and amazing content every step of the way, creates unrealistic expectations for both you and them. Instead, keep your personal brand human, flawed, and as though you're trying to carry something great forward. Position your personal brand as a complement and enabler to another adjacent brand or bigger idea. Through this positioning, you will have built in a lot of grace into your brand. This grace gives you room to screw up, fall down, laugh at yourself, and to improvise in the face of mistakes. It also allows you to share more authentic stories of your journey including the challenges of managing the responsibility of carrying the brand forward. Allow yourself to have a rich, compelling story like the kind the Disney-Marvel empire is built on. These honest moments are part of what makes the audience connect and engage.
4. Give yourself more breathing room by positioning your brand in exploration
At times you may meander or disconnect from your core personal brand. This happens naturally as your wisdom and experience increase. The expectation that your position be fixed or static may not be realistic for you. The good news is that you can build an insurance policy into your personal brand to get yourself back on track, or even head in new directions altogether. Simply make exploration a core part of your brand. Answer this question, what are you exploring?
Exploration gives you wiggle room without a defined commitment or preset rigorous expectations. It's like asking what ideas are you dating right now? This gets you out of the trap of defining your identity on a single role or activity, or an extreme or absolute position on any issue.
Your passions, positions and interests may change. Other adventures may call on your expertise. If you find yourself trying new things, why not do yourself the favor and let the world know you're an explorer. Bake it into the core of your brand and the audience is less likely to leave in the face of change.
Your personal brand should be positioned on values and ideas you believe in and can actually live up to. Keep them realistic, human, and flexible. If you can avoid the perfection trap and preserve your right to explore new ideas without shocking the audience you've worked to build, you will find yourself with more opportunities. This provides latitude to create more enriching content, deeper engagement, and an ever expanding following.