Marketers will tell you that brand consistency matters when wanting to sell your products. In fact, some experts would say that you must have a strict, unchanging set of principles which does not deviate.
While I do trust that marketers know just how to nearly hypnotize people into believing that we have to have [ __fill in the blank with any kind of stuff__], the words “strict” and “unchanging” trigger that prickly, suffocating feeling in me.
But, like it or not, I work in a profession that thrives on a steady stream of social media content. Those who “follow” and “like” what they see and read rely on a certain persona to deliver in order for them to decide that I am worth a split second (or two) of their scrolling time. Social media following and engagement leads to sales. Trends need to be followed. I sincerely want to reach more people with my messages… so I must continue to sell. I need to keep crafting, managing, and perfecting my “brand.”
But lately my heart, body, and soul want to rebel against this “stay in your lane” approach to how I share myself with the world. I have been feeling less and less “brand consistent.” I can tell that I am experiencing the acuteness of another big personal evolution.
Some of the confusion I am experiencing…
This year for the first time in my athletic career I raced an early season Ironman. Then last weekend I followed it up with a sprint. Both were great experiences for different reasons. I am also looking forward to heading back to St. George in the fall for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, where I will give my all racing against the best. I am happy for a change of pace this year, but can feel a craving to return to competing for age group placements in 70.3s. Is my brand “high level athlete and competitor in what is more known” or “challenge myself in new areas where there is automatic discomfort in the unknown?” Or something else? Or both? Or can it ever-evolve, changing with each inspiration?
I align with many different communities, and love hearing and exploring new ways of thinking. And although I am a passionate woman who has many strong beliefs and convictions, I often cannot understand extreme ways of thinking and acting. Lately I have been feeling the pressure on social media to “pick a side” on many hot topics and serious issues, which does not feel authentic to me. As you can imagine this causes some extreme brand confusion.
I aim to enlighten people in the importance of self awareness, and also love to be part of movements to educate on the influence that said marketers and history have on how we view ourselves and the world. I believe in both impacting change. I know that some folks dislike me and/or my message. Some will disagree with or even hate my book. Some days I am okay with this and continue on doing what I believe is right. On others, I fight the desire to either try to be everything for everyone, or to shrink back into the background where I can be small and neutral. Is my brand trying to fit into a mold? (No) Can it be educating and empowering for change simultaneously? Can I teach about the importance of self compassion while struggling with it myself?
I could go on, but the ramblings of my confused, somewhat rebellious brain might bore you to tears (or, even worse— not reading any more!). My goal is not to only vent my own struggles at this point in my career, but to share this message that I took away for myself:
I am not an unchanging brand. And neither are you.
It is (obviously) a little more complicated when what you are selling is your own ideas and/or personal creations, and this metaphor is not meant to be used as solid business advice. There are reasons that marketers give the advice that they do. But, you don’t have to be strict and unchanging in order to show up as yourself. You can try new things, have new ideas, change your mind, and ultimately not be everything for everyone.
My brand is being myself, which doesn’t involve only showing one or two parts of me. It means that I get to show it all— the confusion and consistencies, the joys and the struggles, the successes and failures.
Keep learning, evolving, staying curious, and showing up as you. That’s the best brand consistency you’ve got.
(Just don’t change your logo, or in the case of Coca-Cola, your recipe. All marketers agree that is bad for business. 😉