Why What Makes You Different Is What Makes You Sparkle
All too often, we become acutely aware of what makes us different from our peers and try to hide it as much as possible. Our loud cackling laugh. Our semi-embarrassing dance moves. Our insatiable curiosity that makes us ask a zillion questions in meetings. Our obsession with an obscure food. Our disdain for something popular. Our loud hiccups. Social media encourages us to conform to feel part of “it.” “It” is just a boring word for “sameness.” There is no glory is being a follower. And only leaders have the guts to be themselves, regardless of what society thinks.
Here’s why you sparkle when you let your differences shine through.
You are remembered
If you have one goal, it should be this. You have no control over whether people love you or hate you but you DO have a say in how memorable you are. Being remembered is the pinnacle of sparkling. People, businesses and brands that aren't remembered are not top of mind and take up no brain space. When you're remembered, people think about you. Whether they want to or not. You are permanently engrained in their cranium.
You are respected
People who go against the norm have chutzpah.
My unscientific guess is that 99% of the public would rather follow the crowd and hide their differences for fear of standing out. But standing out is a GREAT thing. When you look and sound unlike anything your clients have ever seen, you will strike a chord with the ones who never had the guts to say and do what you do. Don't be afraid to voice your unorthodox opinions. You are your niche. And there's a niche for everyone.
Your people respect you for being you, and I turn into being a role model for them. Personally, I don't drink. I have never enjoyed alcohol and especially in college, this was kind of odd. While it's become more and more acceptable to say no to alcohol for your health it wasn't so popular back when I decided it wasn't for me. At first I was embarrassed but over time I've come to own my status. So if you feel contrary to something accepted as a social norm, don't cower under society's pressure.
You are iconic
Iris Apfel and her accessories. Anna Wintour and her bob/sunglasses combo. Bill Cunningham and his blue overcoat. Lorde and her dancing. Elle Fanning and her reverberating joy. Miley and her name.
People call you crazy. And then they copy you.
You are relatable
Humans are imperfect. When others admit their flaws, or love their differences our ears perk up. Oh! Someone else who does that? Someone else who gets it?
Every solopreneur’s website has an “About” page where there’s a well meaning bio about them. Unfortunately, instead of telling me why they’re the girl or guy for the job, they talk about their favorite wine, their hobbies, their family, that they love a good nap blah blah blah...
Nobody cares! You need to make what makes you special clear.. as it relates to your business. Talking about how you just love to curl up with your dog in bed and watch All Dogs Go To Heaven isn’t relatable when I’m shopping for a coach. It isn’t cute and it isn’t helpful. If a coach were to talk about how they bucked the status quo in the industry to do XYZ because they believed in XYZ to get their clients XYZ.. I would be more interested. They’re talking about me, a client. THAT’S what I care about. I also care about qualifications. Generic fluff about your everyday life dilutes the potency of your qualifications. Save the puppy stories for your girls night.
On my About page, I talk about my interest and experience in designing websites but also that my purpose is to help other solopreneurs achieve independence and freedom through their business.
You are judged, criticized.
I am unapologetically me. All the time. I don’t like to sugarcoat anything, especially with my clients. No one benefits from beating around the bush. I have strong opinions and am never afraid to voice them. As someone who builds “Online Squarespace Businesses That Razzle and Dazzle Without Making You Frazzled” I have to commit to being me, because I KNOW other people find my brand ridiculous. I KNOW other people don’t take me as seriously as they should. But I also KNOW a ton of people who do. They love my quirkiness. The fact I relate building a successful business to becoming a celebrity. The language I use to inject FUN back into their business.
I wouldn’t feel comfortable advertising myself as a “web designer that builds modern and sleek sites for the innovative company.” Blech. It’s so generic, and so NOT ME. I dance around the kitchen. I skip my way to a carousel. I know so much celeb info I could be working for a tabloid. Pink is my power color. These things make me, me.
Embrace your sass. Embrace your quirks. Then infuse those into your business. It can be the way you provide a service, your visuals, your language. In fact, it should be all three. Every piece of your business should be a drop of you. Like a drug. The more you embrace your difference, the more you sparkle. And the more you sparkle, the more you shine. Soon, people will need to wear sunglasses because you shine so bright.
Great brands aren’t just brands- they are true to the people behind them. If you have an eye-catching logo, sleek website and monochrome business cards but are struggling to fit yourself into the mold of a suave brand you are doing it wrong. The brand should be built around YOU.
I don’t really do subtle. I have a colorful personality, a colorful design aesthetic and colorful language. Therefore, I design colorful and fun brands. Some people think all my work looks the same, which means I am doing my job. I leave my mark on everything I do, and others can clearly identify it as “mine.”
So don't second guess your natural instincts. And never be afraid to sparkle.