Listen to this post:
Your physical core is the muscular center of your body. It keeps you upright, is the point of origin for most of your movement, and is critical to both your balance and your strength. Almost all physical practices, whether in the sports or the arts, rely on developing core strength. In my own experience, core training has been mandatory for everything from horseback riding and yoga to karate, trapeze, and singing.
On the metaphorical side, your core is your essence – the center of your beliefs and values. It is your moral compass and your guiding star. It is the well from which you draw not only intellectual and spiritual strength, but inspiration and creativity. My writing life and practice are inspired and driven by my core values of self-expression and connection.
In either sense – physical or metaphorical – your core helps you root yourself firmly so you feel strong and balanced.
Your brand is the core of your business.
Your brand is what gives you clarity and confidence. It gives you a comforting sense of certainty about your choices. It encompasses both the intellectual and physical roles of core strength and stability – defining your “who” and “why” while providing a framework that helps you deliver the “what.”
Interestingly, your brand offers the exact same benefits to your audience.
It gives your prospects and customers:
clarity about who you are and what you’re offering,
confidence in your ability and trustworthiness, and
certainty that they are making the right choice when they choose you.
Without a strong brand, your business lacks definition.
Without definition, your prospects are left with a lot of questions.
Questions are a roadblock to conversion.
You can launch a business without a brand. You can even achieve some success without a brand. But, if you plan to be around for the long haul, if you want to outmaneuver the competition, if your goals include building a loyal and profitable following, you need a strong brand.
No ifs, ands, or buts.
The good news is that building a brand doesn’t require brain surgery, rocket fuel, or black magic. All you need is a little time and a commitment to doing some deep digging on questions such as:
- Why do you do what you do?
- Who are you doing it for?
- What are their most pressing needs?
- How do you solve their problem?
- What makes you different from the competition?
- What’s it like to work with you?
… and so on.
I call it “brand therapy” because you often wind up feeling like you’re on the psychiatrist’s couch (except you don’t have to talk about your mom, your childhood, or that weird recurring dream you have about being naked at work).
Have you given yourself time to sit with these Big Questions? As a solo business owner, I know how hard it is to tear yourself away from the fires on your desk and the ceaselessly beeping, chiming, and chirping alerts that assail you from all quarters at all hours. But I can’t say it enough – taking the time to discover and define your brand is critical to your long-term success. It may seem like a nice-to-have, but it’s actually a have-to-have.
A moment of transparency here – I’m in the middle of a re-brand on my business. There are going to be some major changes happening around here over the next few months. Ideas that I’ve been brewing on the back burner for the last few years are finally almost ready to be served up. It’s been challenging to find time between client projects and a little thing called “life,” but I’ve been consistently carving out time to put myself through my own brand evolution process. I’m pretty excited about how things are shaping up and looking forward to sharing.
While I work on getting my own “house” in order, I hope you’ll give some thought to your brand. Whether you’re an artist who needs to weave her personal mythology into her portfolio; an author who needs to find the throughline that shoots through her fiction, blogging, and personal philosophy; a brick-and-mortar retailer who needs to clearly stake out some online territory in an already crowded market; or a service provider who needs to do a better job connecting with her “right people;” developing a strong brand is the way to give your marketing a strong, balanced foundation. Find your core and you’ll find that all the rest of your marketing falls into place much more easily.
Questions? Drop ‘em in the comments below, or drop me a private email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image Credit: Prashant ZI