Why Being Authentic Is Killing Your Brand


The big thing these days is to "be authentic;" be yourself, don't apologize for who you are, be "real," be honest & vulnerable & #darlingmagazine & I don't even know what.  It sounds good, right?  Yes!  Open up!  People love that!  Down with the impersonal corporate machine!  This is the day of the lone entrepreneur! 


It's all well + good to get on Pinterest & see the motivational quotes about being honest + real, but there's a huge mistake they make & nOBODY SEEMS TO ADDRESS IT. I'm going to because I like being negative + poking holes in people's balloons.  Well, mostly Pinterest's balloons.


What is "authenticity"?  You can have two definitions:

being original // not a copy
being true to one's beliefs

Pretty cool.  No one wants a copycat or a sycophant (copycats are tricky to feed + sycophants are such delicate plants, they are an enormous burden to keep up with).  Being YOU is a good thing!  ...Right??

Yes & no.  If you are representing an idea (author, doughnut-maker, part-time executioner), you DON'T HAVE THE FREEDOM TO BE FREE.  In terms of your interaction with the public, you have committed to a persona that you need to uphold & which needs to be reliable so that customers (readers, pastry enthusiasts, not so much convicted criminals but they're people too), can keep the concept of YOU + YOUR BRAND dependably in their minds. 

oh hey jenny aren't you one to talk

You are definitely looking at someone who is trying to move from "just being myself" to being a definite brand.  There is a lot more to ME than what I portray on my blog because my blog isn't strictly about ME, it's about THE PENSLAYER - it's about writing, it's about my works, it's about my thoughts on becoming better at my craft & how you, too, can improve! 

does this mean i'm not authentic?

Nope!  This does NOT mean I'm not authentic.  This does not mean I'm faking it when I get on my blog & post only a snapshot of who I am.  It means I'm

// edited //

If I take an Instagram picture of part of my house, it's really part of my house - but it's only a square lookie-hole into my environment.  It's real.  It's authentic.  But it's also edited & it's what I want you to see.  It gives you the impression I want you to have.  Is this evil?  Is this manipulative??  Well, okay, it's manipulative but no it's not evil.  If I want to be a definite brand with a definite purpose, & reliably deliver the same genre of goods to the public, I can't afford to be a catch-all dumping-ground for my entire brain/personality.  I have to choose what parts of me will best express + represent my "business front." 


YES  ||  if you fall into the trap of assuming "authentic" means everything you think, everything you like, every tiny change you make, every fad, love, obsession that takes hold of you from week to week.  This is confusion, & confusion destroys a brand.

NO  || not if you are authentic TO YOUR BRAND.  Not if you are authentic to who you have determined you need to be in order to intelligibly express the concept of your brand. 

singleness of vision

are what your brand needs to stand out & shine in a loud, loud world of social media + marketing. 

well okay kettle but you're the same colour as the pot

(Yeah, & it's my favourite colour...)  But no, in all seriousness, this is NOT something I have mastered, but it is something that I've become more aware of in the past eleven months as I overhaul myself + my home.  I've learned how important it is to edit, to focus, to hone.  The CLEAR VIEW of who you are becomes a CONSISTENT EXPRESSION, which creates a RELIABLE CONCEPT of YOU.  For the outside world looking in, whatever demographic your customers fall in to, this is invaluable.  No one wants to depend on chaos + confusion.


6 ripostes:

  1. Jenny, you made some excellent points here! I have been going through a similar growing process with my own blog and working on formulating more narrow, precise, and consistent content for my blog.

    One of my biggest inspirations is Zabrena on YouTube. She is a beauty consultant and her historical makeup tutorials are pretty brilliant. Anyway, she explains in several of her videos how she is very particular about limiting the amount of personal information she gives out on her YouTube channel. Not only does setting boundaries and maintaining privacy keep her safe, but it keeps her content consistent and classy.

    I guess it depends on what kind of creative content you market (some people literally market their own personal lives+everything) and what your forum is, but I am more and more convinced, at least with my own writing, that it needs to be about my readers and less about me. It is about drawing from my own experience and being authentic, but limiting the content I share to content that I know will be useful, entertaining, and edifying to my readers.

    Anyway, so sorry for rambling! Thanks again for sharing. This was really thought-provoking and definitely something a lot of "authentic" creators (including myself) need to take to heart.

    Dani xoxo
    a vapor in the wind

  2. AMEN. One of my biggest pet peeves are people who are so "authentic" that they share frankly what people just don't care to know. People aren't obsessed with your life! Save that for your personal Instagram! When you put yourself out there, you've got to be consistent and recognizable, two things that only come through editing (like most good things, after all! Ha). And if you think that all those famous instagrammers who talk about being "authentic" are going to share their empty cereal bowl to prove it, you're fooling yourself. ;P

    Solid post. Solid dose of honesty at the end (and yeah I'm not entirely there yet either XP). You're a solid person. <3

  3. Oh I totally agree!! It actually bugs me when people get all mad at others for "editing"...and like why? If someone came over to my house, I'd clean up and make it look nice...even when it doesn't 98% of the time. IT'S THE SAME THING FOR EDITING YOURSELF ONLINE. And I also totally agree that one needs to stick to their brand! I'm honestly the most introverted little hobbit IRL, but online I've decided how I want to be and I go for it! :D It makes me happy and I have a ton of fun, but it's definitely an edited version of my life. Hehhheh. ANYWAY I LIKED THIS POST AND DEFINITELY AGREE

  4. It confuses me when you say one thing and Mirriam (seems to) have said the other thing? WHO DO I BELIEVE? XD Ahem.

    1. Actually, I think Jenny and I line up. Granted, I think we're pretty different in the way we do things, BUT we're both all for being authentic + edited (which is what I was struggling with a couple months back). So I think it's safe to believe us both XD

    2. Okay! That's what I think I remembered and was thinking you were trying to be less edited but maybe I remember incorrectly. :) Thanks for replying! ^_^