Are you struggling to refine your brand and grow your business?
First, answer this: How well do you know yourself? How often do you self-reflect?
To succeed in your branding and business efforts, you need to know your field and industry, yes. You, also, need to know about marketing, advertising, sales, and the best strategies for growing your brand, but is that all?
To be a better leader, to improve the dynamic of your team and ultimately grow your brand, you need to focus on something else entirely.
At the organizational level, KRW International and Fred Kiel conducted a study of leaders at 84 U.S. companies and nonprofits. What Kiel and co. discovered is that virtuoso leaders, as they called successful leaders, have 4 traits in common:
These leaders had a working, meaningful narrative of their lives. They knew their principles and they aimed to live and work by them. They also knew themselves, which is the key to building a long-lasting and memorable brand.
At the small business, personal brand, or creative entrepreneur level, you can sum this up as:
The most successful brands have a clear vision of what they are, who they are trying to reach, and what they are trying to market, but to cultivate this vision, a leader must be willing to look within themselves for guidance.
How can you increase your self-knowledge?
Get to know yourself better. Work on self-improvement.
Answer the Tough Questions
- By asking yourself questions, and answering them as truthfully as possible, you can not only
create a more honest brand, but you can grow it into something you yourself believe in. Answer the following:
- What are you passionate about?
- What drives you or inspires you to deliver your best work?
- What are your strengths?
- How do you attract people to engage with you?
- How do you uniquely solve or imagine or feel or track your way through problems?
- What do you stand for?
- What do you stand against?
- What are you curious about?
Sometimes we forget to start with our own identity & heritage of experience for answers, but the best way to better understand the brand you’re creating is to consider what you’re passionate about, what makes you curious, and what pushes you to continue working and growing.
By answering these questions, you might learn something new about yourself or you might find yourself stumbling into a world of wonder. This is good. Don’t be afraid to reflect. Don’t be afraid to let go of what you think you know. Don’t be afraid of change- and while you’re at it, let that childhood imagination spring back to life. This will lead you to the vision.
As we evolve and change over time, our businesses and brands evolve.
Knowing who you are and how you relate to the world in which you live is essential for any leader, but especially one who wishes to become more successful in their business ventures.
As the American Financier, Bernard Baruch, puts it, “Only as you do know yourself can your brain serve you as a sharp and efficient tool. Know your failings, passions, and prejudices so you can separate them from what you see. Know also when you actually have thought through to the nature of the thing with which you are dealing and when you are not thinking at all.”
Being self-reflective isn’t always easy, but there are easy ways to get yourself there and there’s no right way for anyone. Perhaps you’ve learned that your best ideas come while you’re working out, practicing yoga, driving, or reading.
Follow your curiosities and your creative thoughts and you will increase your self-knowledge.
Do What You Do Best
Knowing yourself is key, but knowing how to connect with your audience is also important. Before asking your audience for feedback, make sure you accomplish the following:
- Become a credible source.
- Be honest about what you support.
- Follow your curiosities.
- Know your own brand.
Again, the brand begins with you. If you don’t know your brand, neither will your audience. Business owners, entrepreneurs, and creatives often get caught up in the trends and the “likes,” but if you are actively trying to grow your brand, this is what you have to remember: your brand is, in a way, a part of you. By becoming more self-knowledgeable, you will become more
confident about your brand’s mission and direction.
Understand How Others See You
Knowing yourself is crucial to being a strong leader and promoting a brand, but if you’re practicing self-knowledge, you have to address the other side of it: how others perceive you. This isn’t exactly just others’ opinions of you, but rather, how you come across to them. It might be hard to know this, but you can ask a friend or a colleague the following questions to
get a better understanding:
- How do I encourage others effectively?
- What is my best quality as a leader?
- What is an area of leadership that I can improve upon?
- How can I better influence others for the better?
- Do you understand my brand and what I am marketing?
Be willing to listen to the people around you. Be willing to accept constructive feedback as it relates to you, as a leader, and your brand, but don’t let this information overwhelm you. It is just a portion of knowledge that will help you understanding yourself better.
There are other ways to discover this information and to build upon your self-knowledge in a positive way. Sally Hogshead, for instance, offers a How to Fascinate test which evaluates your personality, shows you your best work qualities and how they are perceived by those in the world around you. Knowing this information can help you become a stronger, more effective
Remember: through your social media, your marketing campaigns, your products, and your overall content, you are constantly influencing your audience, but how you influence them is completely up to you. This is the exciting part. You have an opportunity, in branding, to promote the things you care about, to market the ideas that you, yourself, believe in.
Success will come, when you continuously practice self-knowledge. By learning how to reflect, how to wonder, how to cultivate new ideas, and create new endeavors and new creative paths, you will grow as a leader and a brand.
Branding, in essence, starts from within. When you understand yourself, you understand your goals, your mission, and this will lead you down the right path.