Do You Know Who You Are?

Human brain and colorful question mark

Do you know who you are and what you do?

If you’re in business, these are the two core questions you must be able to answer.

They’re more important than what you call yourself, how you market yourself, and how you brand your business. Because, if you can’t answer them, all of these other areas become a moving target.

I know. I speak from experience.

Professional experience as a marketer and brander. Personal experience as someone who got lost herself and saw her business and brand become a moving target for years. And observational experience… I see a lot of people shifting their branding and marketing constantly. There’s nothing wrong with growing and evolving your business, but if you’re constantly changing what you call yourself or how you talk about what you do, that tells me you’re probably not sure of either.

You’re searching.

When I started my first business back in 1998, I knew without a doubt who I was and what I did. I was a marketer. It’s what I studied in college and devoted my entire career to. It made it pretty simple to get out there, market, get clients, and be profitable… which I did for years… until I started paying too much attention to what others were doing, and saying.

As I look back, I can see that my own identity crisis—8 businesses and brands in as many years—came as a result of paying too much attention to what others were saying and doing, and buying into the BE more, DO more, HAVE more marketing messages I was surrounded by in the personal and business development industry.

I began to doubt what I knew and what I knew how to do. I began thinking I could get more clients and make more money if I tried a different business, a different market, a different clientele, or a different brand. When the reality is, all I ended up doing was running in circles, and probably looking like someone who wasn’t sure who she was or what she was doing. Not exactly good for business!

Clients crave confidence.

They want to know you’re the expert and can help them. When they doubt their own abilities, as the professional you need to be able to step in and hold that space for them until they catch up. And in order to do that you have to know who you are and what you do. You have to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re the best person for the job. If you can’t instill that level of confidence, you and your business are sunk. And it’s next to impossible to do if you’re bouncing all over the place yourself.

Full Circle.

All these years later, after tuning out all the outside voices and taking the time to get back in touch with who I am and what I do, it’s interesting to see that I’ve come full circle. After trying my hand at a variety of different businesses and brands over the years, I once again see that while much has changed, nothing has really changed. I am still a marketer. It’s what I do. I’m good at it. I enjoy it. And while my methods continue to evolve, the core of what I do remains the same. And I think I can finally embrace it without looking around and feeling it needs to be something else so I can make more money or attract more clients.

The truth is, when I own it fully, I’ll have all the clients I want. And you know what, they’ll be the right clients. I know that because the clients I have attracted this year, with little to no marketing, have been the most ideal clients I’ve had in years. I’m enjoying working with them immensely. They’re getting an unparalleled level of service. It’s like after all these years, I’ve come home again. Back to the kind of business I had BEFORE… but in many ways even better. Probably because I have a clearer vantage point after getting lost myself.

Do I have a different brand name than when I started?

Yes. Does it matter? No, not really.

What’s most important is the clarity and conviction of knowing what I do. And to be totally transparent, that really is what your branding is. It’s not the name. It’s not what you call yourself. It’s not the words you use in your marketing. It’s not the name in the header of your website. It’s the CORE of what you stand for.

You can package it however you want.

But you do first need to know what it is. And in my experience over the past 25+ years, most business owners don’t know. Or, like me, they’ve lost sight of it amidst all the noise and striving to grow their business, get more clients, and make more money.

So, if you find yourself constantly trying to find the right business or brand name, or constantly changing how you describe what you do or what you call yourself, perhaps it’s time to step back and ask yourself if you really know WHO you are and WHAT you do. Because odds are, if the packaging keeps changing, it’s because the insides are a moving target, too.

Take a time out. Find yourself.

Do a personal and professional inventory. Ground yourself. Figure out what you do and then, only then, worry about what the heck to call it.


About Debbie

Debbie worked in marketing for 32 years and ran a successful coaching and consulting business for 19. She now teaches marketing and helps people find greater happiness and success by learning how to Follow Inspiration.

3 comments on “Do You Know Who You Are?

  1. Hi Debbie!

    Thanks for this posting. I’ve been mulling this around lately. When it comes to branding I’m in a difficult business to find a brand. Photography, like any art, is a subjective thing. But the worst part is: you have to satisfy yourself as an artist first or else you will develop no style and will be constantly bending to the whims of clients to shoot something, or in a style, that isn’t you and you just don’t want to represent.

    I find the hardest thing I’m having to do is walk away from a client who wants to hire me for something that is completely anathema to the work I represent. But it’s all about putting the work out there that you want to be hired to do. I’m hoping the brand will be refined as I grow and show more of how I really enjoy shooting.

    All the best,

  2. Brian,
    As a photographer, I think your style of photography is a big part of your branding. Along with your attitude. Your approach. And your personality. Maybe you have a specialty. Or a certain visual style or look to your shots. It all adds up to YOUR BRAND.

    Yes, it is hard to say no to clients who are not a good fit, but ultimately it’s the best thing for our business. When we do so, we are in effect reinforcing who we are and what we stand for, to that client, to ourselves, and to the universe. Just keep being YOU and doing what you do best, and let the world see that!

  3. I agree with this completely. It is easy to think maybe it is not working and I need to change something. But I think staying consistent is the key and it catches on with people. Constant changing keeps people from knowing who really are. Figure who you are and stick to that even if it does not meet everyones needs. I am good with saying, I may not be right for you and that is ok.

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