By Khatch Mikaelian, founder and managing Director of Kalian Branding
When I was growing up, I just did as I was told.
This is bad
That is good.
I graduated from high school. Graduated from college. Got a job. Then became an entrepreneur and started my own company. All the while I just was who I was. I had some idea of what I liked and what I didn’t, but I primarily existed as a result of my experiences and my circumstances. The drive was to be who I felt I was expected to be.
Having said that, I did exhaust the idea and constant thought of who I wanted to become in the future. The “when I grow up” complex. For me, that starting line was to be triggered by a significant life event, like marriage or making my first million. Only then would I finally be the best version of myself.
I would sleep early, gym more, travel smarter, donate to charities, cook, read books, and have a nicer house and a sexier car… the list goes on and on.
After finally realizing no significant event in my life was ever going to trigger all that I choose to be, I decided to master the art of being me.
I was no longer going to wait to be the best version of myself.
So I broke down the process into four sections – much like I do for my clients when creating a brand for a product or service).
- Brand positioning
- Applications and guidelines
- Brand guardian
In the context of living the brand, purpose and values are not created; they simply exist. The challenge is how well they are identified, articulated and communicated.
This is true for most companies that want to go through a branding exercise. When clients approach me, what most of them don’t realize is that they’ve already walked the walk. The most difficult and challenging part of developing their business is done. They just haven’t identified what they stand for and how to best communicate it.
The same applies to who we are. We just need to draw on positive themes that already exist. Then ask ourselves… Am I remarkable?
Applications and guidelines
Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.
What you’re trying to achieve is a perception. And whether you realize it or not, people will always have a perception of you. So it’s best that you take control of whom you’re being perceived to be.
The hundreds and thousands of gestures you make every day, from what you wear, to what you eat, to where you go, to who you associate with, to where you’ve been and where you plan to go, all comes together and creates a perception.
If you have gone through stage one and have identified and determined your brand, it becomes very easy to understand your guidelines. You stop making ad hoc decisions about your journey and you become clear about what is on brand and what is off brand for you.
Connection is why we are here. It’s what gives us purpose and meaning to our lives.
If this stands to be true, then understanding and identifying my own brand is crucial to connecting successfully. Considering I am the architect of my own brand, I have to ask… How connectable am I?
In order for us to connect, we have to be seen, heard, touched, understood, and we have to communicate our brand clearly and consistently. Leave no room for misinterpretation. We have to make ourselves vulnerable and learn to accept our flaws. And most importantly we have to believe we are worthy of connection.
Building your brand is always going to be a work in progress. To truly be a brand guardian and to always make sure you’re doing yourself and your brand justice consistently, you must be true to your authentic self. Only then will you be able to achieve connection as a result of authenticity… Willing to let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you are.
As the great ballet choreographer Alonzo King said, “What’s interesting about you is you”.
Eventually, staying true to your true self is the only sustainable value proposition.