When your brand hits the fan

When trouble strikes…
When life gets in the way…
When shit hits the fan…
When relationships go pear-shaped…
When all hell breaks loose…
HOW does your personal brand whether the storm?

Your personal brand reveals it’s true strength when things go topsy turvy.

A brand can appear rosy when everything is working as it should, when customers are well looked after, and you are kicking goals. But how robust is your personal brand, when chips are starting to crack that polished surface? Your personal brand’s influence, reach and legacy is most evident when you aren’t able to keep up appearances.

You know those moments when your life goes into chaos, and the friends who rally around you are your ‘truest friends’? You get to see peoples’ true colours when your life is demanding and there is hard stuff being dealt with. Weak friendships fade away and your ‘tribe’ steps up for the challenge. The same goes for personal brands and their community of customers. Business isn’t always butterflies and rainbows. Something eventually happens and the shit will hit the fan. It’s those moments when your personal brand is tested on all levels.

Is your brand ‘chaos proof’?

A personal brand must invest well in advance, in understanding and communicating their reason for doing business and what they ultimately stand for (and not stand for). They should polarise enough in their brand positioning, to speak to a niche group of customers who share their values and feel strong enough about the brand to get OFF the fence and engage – even when things go bad.

Most importantly, personal brands must invest in being vulnerable in how they communicate the highs and lows of their business. When a personal brand establishes a brand identity that is flexibile, fallible, vulnerable, and honest, they will be strong enough to stay connected to their audience in tough times.

I have had this experience in my own personal brand, several times over the 14 years I have been in business. I have noticed since really deepening my personal brand in the past few years and being more vulnerable with my tribe, that when the shit hits the fan, my clients rally around me and they are understanding of my humanness. They also know that the same goes for when they are going through difficult times. My personal brand rallies around my customers and I have full acceptance and understanding for their humanness and vulnerability. It’s an integral part of my why and my brand positioning. It’s ultimately how I build trust with my clients, so they can be fully vulnerable in front of the camera.


So how do you create a robust personal brand that is it’s strongest when the shit is hitting the fan?

You must be transparent, raw, real and vulnerable even in the awesome moments so that your honesty translates in the difficult moments. You have to go first in sharing more of yourself. It’s a heart-opening process for your clients – no matter how conservative or creative they are.

The same goes for your business photographs. Resist just showing happy, smiling perfect moments in your photographs. Get real and raw in front of the camera. Disclose more of you, in your facial expression, your body language. Risk being seen as foolish for the chance to truly connect with your audience. They will reward you for it! I promise!

Transparency creates cut through

Sprout Social found from a survey of 1000 respondents that “85% of people say a business’ history of being transparent makes them more likely to give it a second chance after a bad experience.” That is a high percentage of forgiveness and understanding right there. Brand loyalty is all about your customers feeling like you are IN this journey WITH them, not just talking about it. It’s going to require you to face your demons and open yourself up. Customers want to know that you and your people are in the trenches with them.

That you laugh when they laugh. You feel sadness just like them. You aren’t afraid to go where many other businesses aren’t comfortable sharing. Because the fact is, if you can go to that place of vulnerability, then it makes it easier for your customers to go there with you. You bond together like your truest friends who stay with you in your darkest hours. You are on this journey together.

Personal brands in 2020

Heading into 2020, personal brands will have a distinct advantage over big faceless brands. They can bring their customers closer to them by leveraging their humanness and connecting their face and heart to their business reputation. As we step into an era of artificial intelligence, blurring the lines of reality and AR, deep fake videos and fake news, we as consumers will be experiencing a high level of ‘reality apathy’. We won’t know what is real and what isn’t, for the most part. The shit will literally be hitting the fan, and people will become even more cynical than ever. This is the moment whereby personal brands will come into their own.

  • Give value wherever you can – don’t hold back, share knowledge and value, givers gain. Make sure that your branding photographs serve the purpose of connecting with your audience.
  • Get personal – share your highs and lows, your frustrations, your loses and your wins. Show us the more vulnerable you in your headshots.
  • Be multi-layered in how you engage – use written blogs, videos, podcasts etc – different people connect in different ways. Show different sides of you in your branding photographs.
  • Tell stories – we connect collectively as humans through stories. Make sure that your branding headshots also tell stories.
  • Listen to your audience – engage with them in real-time, answer their questions in public, be upfront when you don’t know the answers. Be genuine and build curiosity in your branding photographs.

If you are the face of your personal brand then this is your time to be consistently sharing all parts of you and disclosing all the layers of your humanness. Your transparency will win out above all of the noise of this AI revolution that is already on our doorsteps.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you bring your audience closer to you as a brand.

I DARE you to disclose more of your rawness and realness.

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About Louise

A Brand Identity Photographer, Confidence + Mindset Coach & Brand Strategist.

Once a Psychologist in a former life, I now empower emerging & established leaders, multi-hypheners, trailblazers, and kick-ass over-achievers to accelerate their personal brand positioning & dial-up their visibility.

I blend photographic storytelling with identity psychology & archetypes.

Headshots | Personal Brand Photography | Coaching | Team Building | Staff Photos | Workshops

Based in Brisbane, servicing Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth & International clients.

Contact Louise