Vulnerability is facing a blank page. Having left behind a successful business I helped build from the ground up, here I am again at the start. But all journeys begin with a single step. Sometimes taking that first step is the hardest part. But we gotta start somewhere! So here it is. My intention in writing this blog is to offer my own brave narrative to you. I am beginning the process of branding my business, Brave Narrative, and as a branding professional, I want to let you witness my process so you can see the power of branding first hand. I will start with a default WordPress theme and flesh it out as I go, showing you my conceptual process, as well as the more tangible design process. But first, I want to tell you a little about what brings me here.
I have a hypothesis that drives all my branding & design work. It forms the basis of my new business, Brave Narrative. My hypothesis is essentially that vulnerability and authenticity are more powerful and effective tools to build your reach than any stand-alone, overused marketing strategy. A good marketing strategy is an essential piece of the puzzle, but it must come only after the deeper work of showing up and finding that inner and outer alignment. And in our professional lives, we have always been told to show a polished front with few personal details. Traditionally, we dressed up in a generic suit & tie or pencil skirt, had a LinkedIn profile head shot with perfect lighting, groomed hair and our chin angled just-so, with no room for the parts of us that were a little more soulful, or intimate or personal to come through. Showing up in a real way in our professional lives takes vulnerability. But vulnerability is powerful. It builds connection, and connection is the driving force of the work we do. We must connect with someone, just one single individual if we are to be of service. And if we want to spread our reach, touch the lives of more people, then we must somehow build connections with many. The problem with today is that we are in an Attention Economy. Human attention has become a scarce commodity that millions of businesses and entrepreneurs strive to gain a piece of. Countless marketing gurus, sales funnel experts and branding strategists build their whole careers on helping businesses to grab a share of that limited resource. But often they sell you a short game when your life’s work is anything but.
My personal hypothesis is that vulnerability, transparency, sincerity and congruence are the best marketing tools any of us have to create uncontested white space around our brand’s marketing and communications. These same principles apply if we aim to get noticed, to be seen and to build real connection in any relationship. A flashy new website or a clever social media strategy can make a big difference, but if it’s not entirely sincere or aligned with who you are and the work you’re meant to do in the world, you will likely only get so far with it. When you move forward in a way that isn’t fully in alignment, you may feel like you’re swimming up river, like you’re trying too hard, or like you can’t just be yourself.
Of course with vulnerability comes the necessity for good boundaries. It’s not a license for TMI (too much information!) or inappropriate over sharing. That said, I invite you to ask yourself, where are you playing small? In what ways do you hide your true gifts or hold back your superpowers? Perhaps you have a wicked sense of humour, or a gift for poetry, or a unique way of seeing the world or the issues in your industry. What aspects that are essential to WHO YOU ARE do you consistently leave off your résumé? How does your professional persona abandon something true or raw or authentic about you? And how can you begin to integrate all these pieces into how you portray yourself and communicate who you are to the world?
And finally, what is your brave narrative? What brought you to the place you are today? What setbacks did you overcome to get here? Why are you uniquely qualified or called to the work you are here to do? Our stories are often the gateway to this alignment, and they help us connect with others from a place of truth.
The answers to these questions begin to form the foundation of your brand. While you may not feel like you are particularly unique or anything special, and while there may even be countless others doing the exact same work as you, who you are and the approach you bring to it cannot be replicated. That my friend, is your brand.
Please feel free to leave a comment below with your responses to these questions, or any insights or aha’s you may have had from this post.
I also invite you to learn more about how to brand yourself authentically by joining me on my own branding journey. Follow my blog on Facebook, Twitter or via my Newsletter. We will both learn a lot as we go, and the journey is always more fun with good company!