Vulnerability is a Desirable Brand Trait

An important aspect of brand management is proactively monitoring image and reputation. How a brand is perceived by others is influential in determining its standing in the marketplace. Whether a product brand or personal brand, meticulously overseeing for what is communicated about our brand is vital to maintaining trust with others... or is it?

Why Vulnerability is a Desired Trait
I would have argued strenuously in favor of obsessively managing a brand to "protect" it until hearing a statement in a podcast that called this belief into question. Best-selling author Ken Blanchard was interviewed on Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership podcast about his latest book, Trust Works! The book teaches how to assess the level of trust others have in you as well as discussing "trust busters" that diminish a leader's effectiveness. The idea that brand management is about striving for perfection is debunked by a statement Blanchard made about how others perceive leaders:

"People admire your skills but love your vulnerability." 

This statement resonated with me. I think of branding as being "always on"- our guard is up to minimize chances of something being said or done to harm our brand. Yet, the reality is we cannot prevent missteps or mistakes- we are humans, not machines. Vulnerability is a state in which we all are in from time to time; it makes you no less effective as a leader if vulnerabilities are revealed. In fact, your brand can benefit when you reveal traits with which others can relate.

Vulnerability is Part of Your Brand Story
Stories bring out unique qualities and help paint the picture that is your brand. Revealing vulnerabilities and your efforts for dealing with them does not portray an image of weakness. Instead it conveys authenticity. We work hard to build credibility by developing expertise and building trust. But, underneath all of our brand building efforts remains a person with weaknesses. We don't have all the answers; in fact, we are rarely the smartest person in the room. Share your humanness rather than obsessing with control in a futile attempt to project a perfect identity that does not exist.

Dealing with and overcoming vulnerability can be a captivating brand story, and one that is more credible than a facade of perfection.

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