Perception is reality for most of us—the world is how we see it and interact with it. It’s important to remember this in your branding. Your audience isn’t going to know your personal inner workings; they’re going to know your message and public image. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your audience is simply going to “know what you really meant” after a faux pas.  You need to stay consistent with your brand values as you cultivate your platform. Doing this is much easier if you remember that who you are to your audience is based on their perception.

When it comes to creating the brand image you really want, you need to always be honest with yourself. Stay aligned with your values and keep your message consistent. If you want to cultivate a platform that truly reflects who you are, you’re going to need to take a few steps to ensure your audience is seeing your authentic self.

Channel your personal experience. A big part of building a successful author platform is addressing a specific issue. You have the answer to a very precise problem, so always keep in mind how you found the solution for yourself, and remember what drove you to share your methods for success with others. As you grow, you may be tempted to cast a wider net and break new ground. Make these choices cautiously!

Remember: perception is reality, so any missteps aren’t going to be easily forgotten by your audience. When you make a big mistake, you essentially become that mistake. When people hear the name “Enron,” they don’t think of an energy company—they think of insider trading. That may sound like an extreme example, but consider it a cautionary tale. You don’t want to wind up only being known for falling out of touch with the image you’ve created for yourself and your brand.

Engage your audience honestly. One of the best exercises you can do during your downtime or between events is making a list of “I am” statements. Start listing all the things you truly believe yourself to be, and consider how these facts relate to your branding. Don’t pick and choose: your audience will love you for your flaws and no one expects perfection. Creating an image and being two-faced are very, very different. Don’t fall into the trap of doing the latter by falling out of touch with who you really are.

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