by Kelly Hobkirk
We are a society full of masks. Some masks are fun, some are for protection, while others are designed to help us hide. Some companies unwittingly mask their true brand. People do it too. The things is, valuable connections occur when we are true to both ourselves and others.
We are taught how to mask ourselves from an early age. Who teaches us how to remove the masks? For some, it’s a slow process of becoming comfortable with reality. For others – particularly those who see value in connection – short order wholesale change makes the most sense.
We wear masks all over our bodies (clothing, makeup, perfume). Masks are used under our arms (deodorant). They cover our mouths (protective masks), eyes (masquerade ball), or whole faces (Halloween), and even around our feet (shoes). Obviously, some masks are useful.
But some masks do us more harm than good. Some people use masks in speech, called half-truths and (gasp) lies. Remember when tobacco advertising said smoking was essential to social prominence? The path to romanticizing a product doesn’t need to include any deceit. There is almost always a real factor that contains appeal.
We all want to be excited by our advertising. We want our brands to outshine all competitors. All it takes is great creative people wrapping their imaginations around a compelling truth. Of course, they must be capable of finding that truth.
When creative professionals or companies start believing in promises made to manifest appeal through false hopes, that’s the top end of a downward slide. It’s when they add a mask into the mix. And it’s completely avoidable.
With a lifetime of masking ourselves, it is no wonder businesses often don’t know how to brand with any degree of integrity. Instead, companies often brand for who they want to be rather than who they are. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this, unless (as is often the case) the presentation of who you want to be misrepresents who you are. That’s how empty promises are made.
The truth is, people want to know who you really are. They want to know what you believe in, what you care about, and how you will treat them. Being honest and up front about this – not hiding behind any masks – is the more likely path to connection and good relationships.
As you brand or advertise, think about how you would present yourself to a new friend or love interest. That kind of bold honesty is exactly what is needed in your brand.
How many great relationships are built on half-truths? How many solid foundations are built on trust and honesty? Which do you want your brand to embody?
My vote is on the latter, on articulating who you are with absolute integrity, so the people who you most stand to benefit can know you are being true, and can believe in your brand.