To be Garth or Chris, that is the question. (What's your answer?)
Little known fact: I grew up on country music.
(P.S. If you're someone who hates country, just stick with me, alright? This story is worth it.)
I can vividly remember sitting in the backseat of our beat-up burgundy Dodge Caravan, windows rolled down (because who has A.C., amiright?), the sounds of Reba McEntire and Shania Twain blaring in the speakers.
But one of my all-time favorites was Garth Brooks.
In the world of music, Garth is LEGEN-wait-for-it-DARY.
With over 20 recorded and released albums, Garth is the only artist in history to have released seven albums that have reached Diamond status (10+ million albums sold). He has won 2 Grammy Awards, 17 American Music Awards (including the "Artist of the '90s"), and the RIAA Award for Artist of the Century in the United States.
Artist of the Century, y'all.
I mean… he's kind of a big deal.
And the thing is that even now, decades later, I can still recognize his voice when he comes on the radio. Sweet and lilting, with a soft Oklahoma accent… no matter the song, you know his voice.
But in 1999, Garth decided to make a change. Like, a big one.
Enter Garth's alter-ego, Chris Gaines.
While Garth was known - internationally - as a critically acclaimed country singer, Chris Gaines was a rock artist hailing from Brisbane, Australia.
Confused yet? Yeah, so were audiences.
Chris Gaines didn't last a year. When Y2K rolled around, Chris was out and Garth was back.
And his audience breathed a massive sigh of relief.
Here's the thing...
When it comes to your brand's unique voice, you have a choice: to be Garth or be Chris.
Be Garth. And by that, I mean be yourself. Whether your natural personality is soft and lilting or bold and gravely, you can show up and stand out… just by being yourself. You can infuse who you are - your personality, your quirks, your natural gifts and creative expertise - into how you show up in front of your people. All it takes is knowing what song you want to sing and who you're singing it to - and just open your mouth and sing the melody (metaphorically speaking, of course).
Be Chris. And by that, I mean play a part. Choose a genre that might not naturally vibe with who you are and what you're about and try it out. You might be all about courage and wholehearted vulnerability, but you might play the part of a fear-driven marketer in your messaging. You might be fun and light, but you might try on the brash, serious persona.
Here are the facts.
Today, Garth Brooks continues to make music and perform in front of audiences around the world. He's amassed hundreds of awards, and still goes out there and does what he loves. I'm not saying that his career didn't take a massive amount of work and an intense amount of self-awareness around his gifts and passion, but his artistry and voice are uniquely him. He shows up as himself and it works.
Chris Gaines? Well, he's a bit of trivia, an experiment gone wrong. Not only did his "career" not last more than a year, but he'll maybe get a giggle from those that remember his name (and it's only when it's attached to Garth's that anyone remembers).