Figuring out your brand personality it can seem to be just as hard as figuring out who you are. We all struggle (whether we admit it or not) when it comes to figuring out who we really are. It can take years of self-reflection and discovery only to discover that who we thought we were is not who we actually are…and then begins the process of accepting who we really are. Well guess what?

You don’t have that kind of time when it comes to building your brand.

Let’s look at building your brand from two different perspectives: your personality and industry standards.

Let’s start with you. Your personality to be exact. How would you describe your personality? How do others describe you? Is there a difference? How others’ perceive you is your personal brand. You can say what you want, but it’s how others’ interpret what you say and how you treat them that they remember.

Now let’s do the same thing with your brand. Using adjectives or personality traits, describe what you want people to know and remember about your brand. Remember, you don’t want to use phrases like “good customer service” as that is not how you describe a person. Instead you want to use words like “funny” or “serious” or “wicked smart”. Do you see the difference?

Your brand is more than just a recognizable logo, colorful marketing materials, and attention grabbing headlines. Your brand is not static. It’s dynamic…constantly moving, evolving, and invoking emotions within your customers.

Whether you understand this concept currently or not, in time you will because every brand has a personality. What comes to mind when you think of Apple, or Google, or Walmart? Those traits that you are thinking of describes their brand. Think of your brand as who you are and what you stand for instead of as what you do or even who you do it for.

You’re brand’s personality doesn’t have to be the exact same as your personal brand, but it will be influenced by it. Making yourself a part of your brand keeps you honest, sane, accountable, and even authentic.

Now let’s talk about industry standards. All too often, I see companies either over-rely on this or they use it as an excuse. When a company over-relies on industry standards, they end up creating a me-too brand. A brand that there is no reason for their prospective clients to remember who they are over their competition, they become a commodity and ultimately have to complete on price alone.

When a company uses industry standards as an excuse, they suffer from what I call “Snowflake Syndrome”. Snowflake Syndrome is when a brand believes that they are the only company that offers this product or service and are superior to everyone else. They believe they are special and when they have problems, “no one understands them” so it is “impossible” for them to get help. Most of the time this couldn’t be further from the truth. They do have competition even if it is only perceived competition, they are not that special, and they usually just are not open to receiving the help that they need…though they won’t admit that.

As with most things in life, industry standards are not meant to be taken to extremes. There are parts of industry standards that become familiar to your customers and the market which can make it easier for you to get in the door. Competition is not always a literal thing. Sometimes competition is in the eye of the customer. If they perceive a comparable product or service as competition, then you do have to acknowledge that.

From an industry perspective you want to be different, but in a familiar way. It is ok to break industry rules, but be selective about which ones you are going to break and why because breaking the wrong ones for the wrong reasons can set you up for failure. Stop worrying about being better than others (a snowflake) and start focusing on being you.

Your brand is your personality, and your personality is your brand. You evolve. Your brand evolves. Social media evolves. The market evolves. Your clients evolve….get the point?