I was reading through a Facebook group full of entrepreneurial women recently, when I saw a business owner post something similar to this:

“People have told me the name of my shop might be off-putting, because it’s not totally appropriate. But I don’t care. I’m being AUTHENTIC. And I’m not always appropriate and sometimes say off-color things, so in the name of AUTHENTICITY, I’m going to keep my shop’s name.”

This detail matters: The shop’s name contained a sexual innuendo.

So far, I was fine with it. After all, if this cheeky lady wanted to have some sass in her branding, that could be just her expressing her personality.

But when I clicked through to see her shop, I was shocked to see that her products were geared towards CHILDREN. The products themselves were totally age appropriate. The name of the shop though….suddenly not even close.

This business owner suffers from the highly overrated concept of absolute authenticity online. The idea that YOU and your personality, your preferences, your sense of humor and the expression of those are the most important pieces in your brand.

The trouble with elevating the expression of your own “authenticity” above all else is that you’ve now ditched your potential customer and her preferences and needs somewhere along the way.

Imagine you were hosting a dinner party. The people you invited over to eat with you all happen to be vegetarians. But you LOVE meat. You eat it all the time. And since you want to be true to yourself, you decide to serve big ole medium rare steaks to everyone at your party. Your guests would not find you “authentic”. They would find you to be a crappy host.

Telling the truth about who you are and what your experience is? Absolutely important.

Letting yourself and your passions shine through in your work so it sets you apart from the rest? Cool. Do that.

But forgetting about your customer and what she needs from you and wants to see before she hires you? That’s just a recipe for a horrible brand experience.

And a dinner party where you’ll be eating alone.

In the comments below: how do your very best prospects want to feel when they encounter your brand? What are you doing in your branding to make that happen?