Do you ever stop and think, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”
No matter how many years go by, I have moments like that. This year has really brought it to the forefront for me.
You see, in January I learned that my father was dying. His cancer had returned full force and was spread throughout his body. And then, a couple weeks later … before I could go home to see him, he died.
In early February, I attended his Celebration of Life and shared a poem that I had written about my experience of his loss.
So, you might be asking, what does this all have to do with branding?
Well, this experience has really pushed me to take a look at what I’ve been doing with my life, my business and my brand. It has made me take a look at what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years … and I’m not altogether happy with what I see.
Yes, I have been working on tweaking my brand for a couple of years now, but much of that work has been befuddled by my living circumstances (an unhappy marriage that was draining me emotionally, psychically and financially), which in turn was aggravating my ADD. All this lead me to create a very fuzzy brand and a fractured and disorganized business.
Now I’m on my own again … and that is amazingly liberating. But my new found freedom had me looking forward and not evaluating what I’ve taken for granted as my day-to-day activities.
My father’s death put everything on hold. As I took time to grieve, I stopped, took a breath, and for the first time in a long while realized that I’ve been in reaction mode for so long that I haven’t been practicing what I preach: be strategic in everything you do with your business.
And all business strategy needs to be anchored in your brand.
Your brand can be focused on your business, your products, your services or you. You can even have an umbrella brand with several subsidiary brands. You just need to decide how you want to do it and then plan it out.1
This month, I’ll be providing you with a variety of tips about branding, from how it affects the creative professional to how you develop it with colors, captions and even books. And, while I share these tips with you, I’ll be working on my own branding.
The first step is to take stock of what you are doing in your business and then prune the things that no longer support you. For example, I’ve already let go of one website, and am in the process of letting go a slew more.
The next step is to take a look at the underlying trends in your life, searching for those things that repeatedly make your heart sing. For me those things are writing, teaching and science fiction. Now think of how these heart-singing things can be integrated into your business and your brand.
Finally, start plotting out your strategy for a business that brings you harmony and enthusiasm, take action, line up your resources and plan out your schedule for getting it done!
1 If you need help creating a plan for your business, you might want to check out Plan Your Business Vision. This is a program I developed specifically with creative professionals in mind. It is flexible to support your creative nature, while structured enough to help keep you strategically on task.