What is it that makes one brand stand out from the rest? There may be two businesses that sell the same thing, but the branding of one seems to put it a step above the other. Brands carry their own personality that communicates beyond the product or service it represents.  The same is true for people. Why are some people just easier to be around, more interesting and more charismatic than others? One common denominator is that all of these have chosen to take some degree of risk in defining who they are. But “risk” isn’t one size fits all. The very definition comprises an element of danger. So, how do you find “your” inner riskiness? How do you stay authentic to your brand while standing out? It’s actually a lot less risky than you might think.

Be Willing To Reinvent Yourself

We’re all much more aware of who we think we are, and how we think the world sees us, than necessary. No one is judging you, and if they are, and you know you’re doing your best, do you really care? Take personal inventory and work to alleviate thoughts of self-consciousness. You deserve to be loyal to your true self and that of the brand, and it’s much easier to find that truth when you’re not overly concerned with a rigid image.

Relate In A Fun Way

When you’ve opened up to cultivating your unique voice, you can use it to relate your customers. Make it clear that you hear their pain or need, and are ready to address it by using humor and a relatable tone. Funny is Money. If you can get to know your customers well enough to make them laugh, you are building a subtle emotional loyalty. Learn your audience, their problem, and how you’re going to solve it. Put yourself in their shoes and talk to them like they’re your friends. Your validation of their experience is halfway to assuring them you have their solution. 

Allow Yourself Vulnerability

To err is human. Nobody is perfect. And few people enjoy being around someone who pretends to be. If you haven’t already, watch Brene Brown’s TEDTalk on “Vulnerability.” The strength it takes to tell your story, to own up to the times you had to sacrifice, or came back from “failure” can be an adhesive that bind people together. Share your experiences on your website, and make content that shows your true self, flaws and all. When people see the behind the scenes, they feel more connected, and those emotions can be the difference between buying from you or the personality-free business across the street. Vulnerability and honesty are risky. But they almost always beget respect.

Know (and adjust) For Thine Own Drive

What’s the difference between a single musical instrument store and Guitar Center? The drive to be big. Be honest about your goals for your business. Are you looking to expand to include multiple locations? Or are you happy with the size and scope you have now? There is no right answer, but adjust your marketing and branding accordingly. Know the people and practices you’d need to put in place to facilitate growth, and take the risks needed to make it happen. If you want to be the best single outlet of your kind, then do that with equal enthusiasm and vigor. 

Build Support

Most of the time others see us more favorably than we see ourselves. Until you’re able to encompass the favorable way others see you all by yourself, surround yourself with a great team. Seek out those who possess complimentary qualities to your own, who can do things you can’t (or would rather not), and will help support your vision. Run your ideas by them, and ask for theirs. Let them know you’re looking to be bold in differentiating your brand in the marketplace, and listen to their feedback. You may even consider featuring them in some of your marketing.

The truer you are to yourself, the less risky your risks will feel. Authenticity is risky in itself, but with a bit of humor, compassion, and customer awareness, your brand will be a welcoming light in the fog of marketing conformity.