Fake It ‘Til You Make It? Not in branding.
How often have you heard the slogan, “Fake it ‘til you make it”? It’s usually suggested as a way to show up with the skills, perception, and success that you want to have. The problem? It’s conducive to inauthenticity. Hype. Highlighting self-motivating needs rather than focusing on the problems you solve. Instead of faking it until you make it, consider a different approach: build a brand for where you are going instead of where you are. Be authentic while giving your brand room to grow so that you build trust with your target audience.
Every brand must start somewhere. Every business idea begins as a start up. Yet, brand equity takes time to build. Even seasoned brands seek opportunities for growth to maintain and build value. The question many entrepreneurs face is simply how to start. How does a brand show up strong?
Don’t fake it.
The reality is that brands DO need to show up and position themselves carefully, from the beginning, whether it’s about naming, a website, customer service, or social media. But this isn’t really “faking” anything. There is nothing fake about building an online presence, or, for example, using multiple email addresses to organize requests for different purposes, even though you have only 2 employees. It isn’t even about faking confidence, although that is sometimes implied.
Brands MUST be authentic and accountable. If a brand uses hype, talks a good game, and fakes anything in its messaging, the brand won’t be able to deliver. It won’t be accountable to its promises. The brand will eventually create a perception that it doesn’t focus on consumer needs but its own interests. Do you want to sound like a used car salesman? The Swindler Archetype is highly unlikely to create raving fans.
What you really need…
If you want to position yourself against your strongest competitor, then don’t fake it ’til you make it. Instead, brand for where you are going. What is your vision? Is it massive, like providing cost-effective housing for everyone? Here’s a spoiler: it will not become reality the instant you open your doors. But, if your vision is that grand, then brand for it in all aspects of branding, whether it’s naming, website design, imagery, or copy. Create room for growth, without faking any promises or solutions.
Branding for where you want to be isn’t just a thought exercise about future goals. It’s a strategic, practical part of a brand platform. For example, develop a name and naming system that is available across multiple social media platforms, even if your brand isn’t ready to take the Twitter or Instagram plunge. Or, consider how brands like American Express and FedEx use color to help distinguish among different offerings.
Brand Architecture can organize the relationships in current offerings as well as future ones. These attributes can be considered well in advance of implementing and launching additional offerings. It’s a practical part of branding for the future. Planning does not require a “fake it ‘til you make it” mindset.
Where do you want to be in 3, 5, 10 years? How do you want your brand to make people think and feel? Don’t fake it… plan for it by giving yourself room to grow. If you fake it ‘til you make it, your brand will fall flat on its face.