I love branding. Why? It makes things look, sound and feel pretty, strong, innovative, vibrant, fun, joyful, happy, etc. Using all our senses as humans, a strong brand makes us FEEL something. That feeling essence is what drives our actions to connect with a brand or business. But what is the root of it? How do we get there? How do we develop a brand?
It’s a journey of discovery. Remembering who you are.
I’ve been fortunate in life to have had phases of immense self-development and professional business development. Both rooted in the dot.com world. Yes, that dates me and I am ok with that. In fact, proud of it..
You see, I grew up in a small Pennsylvania town with very conventional ways of thinking. So when my gut intuition took me to San Francisco, California with no roots, no connections and no direction I had to find my way. Of course, I was surrounded by so much culture and different ways of seeing the world. I was and I still am an open sponge. My journey of self-development and self-discovery opened my world to understanding the deeper meaning of many beautiful ideals. And, how to think about things. Strategically. I also learned so many different concepts about spirituality, intuition, consciousness, positive thinking, law of attraction etc.
At the same time, I landed with a group of elite thinkers and high vibration dot.com developers. Yes, many were Stanford grads, but they attracted like-minded people without the highly-acclaimed degree. Just as valuable! Maybe it is just the yin/yang balance the world needs. (In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another). These entrepreneurs also nourished my mind with business development skills. Refining communication skills, goal setting, team unity skillsets, just to name a few.
I worked with, managed and directed three top notch PR, branding and marketing communications agencies from all around the country to develop a strong brand. Phenomenal experience I am grateful for!
Fast forward three kids later, a massive life change, and more self-growth. And I came upon a book by Neale Donald Walsch, with the most amazing life lessons - Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue. No, don’t let that title throw you, because the main message of that book is to REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.
I loved the concepts in the book so much that it became my branding mantra and process I use with clients to develop their brand and message.
Combine personal life lessons with business branding foundations.
So how does this journey of discovery help a brand?
It comes down to some life lesson principles. You see in the personal discovery world I learned about the power of the words I am.
The I am philosophy. For whatever you put after those words is what you become. Think about that for you personally and for your business venture.
In the business setting, I remember a particularly long branding session that happened over the course of two or three energetic meetings where key executives and team members of the company had to go through a word and branding exercise. Words to describe the brand, the company, who we were. Sometimes it got a bit heated as there was discrepancy over a word and what it really meant. But this was powerful because COLLECTIVELY we were deciding who we were to be as a company.
The words are the power of the brand.
Because the brand is so much more than the imagery or logos portrayed it is the very essence of who is behind that, the people and what they believe. The energy force. For example, a brand can exude trust. I am trust. We are trust. We came out of that meeting with 10-12 powerful words. That set the course and track for the brand. KEY MESSAGE: Those words set the course and track for the brand. For everything we were to do resonated a vibrational energy with that concept or brand attribute.In a sense, what people FEEL with your brand.
People want to feel what you believe in.
That feeling to connect and be brand loyal. It’s a vibrational attraction. And, yes, for skeptics, this can be quantitatively measured. (Gotta love science and what it’s progression is proving.)
So where do you go next in brand development?
My brand training and experience leads me to the purpose or why the company exists (rarely should you start with the logo). For example, Google a powerful brand, their purpose is clear: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Or, one of my favorite brands, the Island Company (yes, because I am an island girl). Doesn’t this make you feel? They are not selling bikinis and clothes, they are branding and selling island escape mentality.
In today’s world, we have so many analytics, data and numbers telling us information. But our internal analytics and intuition is important to a brand as well. This is also why choosing team members who resonate with the company purpose is important.
That means for your personal branding, don’t be afraid to showcase WHO YOU ARE.
That remembering who you are and why we are doing what we are doing. The social purpose. The brand and image we are creating. Yes, I use the word creating because “Life is a process of creation”~ Neale Donald Walsh.
Remember who you are applies both personally and for businesses.
Lessons Learned for a Brand
Many companies (and people) get off track because they forget who they are. Or they get side-tracked. Watch the movie dot.com to understand that in it's full force. In San Fran, I remember all these different partners we had and managing many of those collaborations. They all had different goals (purpose), and sometimes that got us off track to our goal (our purpose). Remembering who we are and what we were trying to accomplish. Look at that lesson, the five people who you surround yourself with applies personally and to business partnerships as well.
Do they match your vibe as a brand?
Your brand is so important. It’s important to take the time to think of the message, and words you use. The images you portray. The energy you exude at every interaction with the customer. Because what you say is what you will become. Your personal brand & your business brand.
Next Steps to Developing a Brand
Yes, this is where the visible next steps come in. The logo, imagery, fonts, nomenclature, strategy, positioning, tag lines, color, etc. All that FUN STUFF.
Remember who you are. It's inside us, and our journey is to remember. Personally. And, for business as well.
Leann Spofford is a brand expert, freelance writer and creative catalyst who helps businesses with strategic integrated marketing & storytelling for today's modern business world. She is passionate about kindness and connecting for better relationships — appreciation marketing.
(Specialty) Remember who you are: a branding process.