This weekend, the United States of America celebrates its birthday – and 239 years of independence. What does that mean? According to Merriam-Webster, independence means “freedom from outside control or support : the state of being independent”.
Freedom is the foundation upon which the U.S. was built. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press. Freedom of assembly. Freedom of petition. Freedom from tyranny. Freedom. That being said, freedom is subject to interpretation – by government, by groups, by people. Ironically, in the strictest sense, a truly free society cannot exist. There is a need to establish guidelines, rules and laws – all of which are necessary to ensure the greater public good.
The question becomes – “Can a person realize true freedom?” My answer is simple – YES. It’s the freedom that one can enjoy as the result of building their fearless brand.
My Friday’s Fearless Brand series has profiled a wide variety of brands – their back story, key elements of their brand and their resulting success – as they define it. Subjects have included well-known individuals such as Hugh Jackman and everyday people like my brother David; popular products like LEGOs and Louboutin; companies including Trader Joe’s and even a muppet named ELMO. My first Friday’s Fearless Brand was you – yes, YOU – because It All Starts With You.
Like you, none one of these subjects has becoming a fearless brand as an objective. Rather, you and they are focused on achieving their goal(s) – they are branding for results. The single biggest result which comes from building a fearless brand is freedom! To understand this, it’s necessary to understand the definition of a fearless brand.
The most essential element of any fearless brand is authenticity. It is critical to be genuine, honest and transparent both internally and externally. A brand’s value proposition is where its why intersects with its talents. A brand’s why is its motivation – it’s what satisfies and provides the drive to success. Talent, skills, competencies add the expertise needed to provide value. The final determinant of a fearless brand is whether or not your value proposition passes the ‘so what?’ test. Does your value provide enough relevance to enough people to achieve your goals?
If you’re authentic, embrace your why, offer expertise and deliver relevance in a consistent manner – you’re a fearless brand. Simple – but not at all easy.
When it comes to branding, fearless does not mean perfect. Fearless does not eliminate fear. Fearless does not guarantee success. What fearless does provide is freedom.
A truly fearless brand has achieved a level of true humility. Humility in this case means accepting our faults – and our strengths – for what they are – without exaggeration or minimization. This clarity leads to the conviction of self – which in turns creates tremendous freedom.
Fearless Brands enjoy unbridled freedom
Building a fearless personal brand allows each of us to create freedom. That freedom manifests in a variety of ways and opportunities.
Freedom to stand out – One of the most obvious reasons to build and embrace your personal brand is to stand out. With over 7 billion people in the world, it is essential to stand out. As Stanley Marcus (Neiman-Marcus) says “The dollar bills the customer gets from tellers in four banks are the same. What is different are the tellers.” To succeed one needs to stand out.
Freedom to fit in – An often overlooked aspect of branding is realizing how your personal brand fits in – be it at a company, a group, a family or in public. A fearless brand has enough humility (see above) to know and accept its role.
Freedom to define success – Success is different for each of us, and fearless brands have realized the freedom to define success as they determine – free from the influence of others’ expectations.
Freedom from judgement – There is no shortage of people, advertisements, articles, movies and such which are quick to state what you should be, how you should dress or act, what you should be doing. A fearless brand define itself.
Freedom from the fear of no – When one knows their purpose and their relevance, they’re able to accept the word NO. They realize that their value proposition doesn’t satisfy a particular situation and is not a reflection on their validity.
Freedom from distraction – Having clarity of purpose has an oft overlooked benefit – knowing what does NOT move you closer to your goals. That understanding lessens the likelihood of pursuing what seems like great opportunities but in reality are mere distractions.
Freedom to be – Yes, the freedom to be your truest self – to just be. Is there any greater freedom?
Fearless brands determine success by their own standards. Likewise, they create a great deal of freedom by determining their why, embracing their passion, understanding their talent and by knowing what is – and what is not – relevant.
Think of it as the Fearless Branding Bill of Rights. 🙂
Happy Independence Day.