In the past few years I have witnessed a growing trend in the field of business and personal development. Numerous times I have seen various leaders in these fields telling their thousands of followers that essentially, their branding doesn’t matter.
Some of them even flat out say it, “your branding doesn’t matter, you don’t need a new website, etc…”
Now I know there is no ill will intended here, and I also know that the wisdom they are trying to impart with this is simply that no amount of looking good on the outside of your business is going to make up for what you need to do on the INSIDE of your business — which is show up and do the work you need to do to grow. Marketing, strategy, mindset, and the rest of it. And also that some can easily get caught at this stage and use it as a stall tactic, or spend their entire budget on it with no marketing plan for after that stage.
I get it. And I could not be more fully in agreement with that.
If you want your business to thrive, you have to integrate all the parts of the whole. Just the same as when we want ourselves to thrive and feel whole, we have to integrate all the parts.
However, the difference is, I do not use my platform in branding and design to discount the importance or value of business and personal development. Ever. In fact, I whole heartedly support it. I regularly refer people to it, and tell them how important a piece of the puzzle it is, and make sure it’s something they’re integrating in some way.
The fact is branding and design DOES matter.
It matters a lot.
It matters in the same fundamental way that a shower and clean clothes matter to an interview or event, and that fundamental way is your level of confidence, and feeling of alignment with your value and your mission.
That confidence and clarity then translates into a level of self-trust, integrity and ease with your marketing and sales processes, and with approaching new partnerships, clients and customers.
It also informs your business decisions, and can have the power to harmonize the many elements of your product and service, by clarifying your core values and directives so that all decisions for the business are in line with who you are and what you want most.
A true partner in branding will help you uncover and clarify those values so that when your business booms, you don’t lose the heart of what you started out to create and get buried in a beast that you don’t recognize.
Let’s use a metaphor to clarify what I mean by this:
Say you are going to an event where you’ll be meeting lots of prospective clients and buyers. Now imagine you are wearing an old shirt that feels really out of date and has a dingy collar and mustard stain you’re hoping no one will notice. How does that make you feel? Where is all your energy going? It’s going into worrying that your presentation is not on par with your quality. You want to tell people about the awesome thing you do, but you’re too busy feeling not quite up to snuff. This causes you to not approach people you need to approach, it causes you to hide a bit, even if just sub-consciously.
Now let’s try the flip side, the over-brander:
Say you’re going to the same event but this time you get a full head to toe makeover by someone who promised to make you look bling. You’re stuffed in gold and leather and Spanx, and you have 3 pounds of make up on. You’ve been told this is the rage, and that in order to fit in with the crowd you want to attract you have to shine so bright people gotta-wear-shades, but the whole time you’re sweating giant pit stains in your Cashmere and feeling like a total fake, and that TOO keeps you from truly reaching out and approaching your people.
A true brand partner will not just help you discover what people want, they will help you discover WHO YOU ARE as a business, and the intersection of where what’s most natural for you, meets what people want, and results in you finally finding “your people”, in a customer relationship that’s sustainable.
Why? Because anything that is NOT YOU, is not sustainable. It will eventually bust and fall flat on its face. It will eventually implode, or explode, and there will be a big mess to clean up.
A true brand partner will stay with you, grow with you, and remain in your company, holding your vision and helping you keep it in-tact.
A true brand partner will sit with you while you try out new gorgeous-feeling garments until you find the one that not only makes you feel like a million bucks, but feels so totally and naturally YOU. So you can hit that event not worrying at ALL about your clothes, and just bring your gifts and value to the table. No flashy hoo-ha, and no mustard stain. Just the real deal, the REAL quality you.
That is where my tagline for The Salty Olive was born — we build genuine brands. Because it is my great pleasure in this business to help people not only look the part, but FEEL it. And they can only ever feel it, when it’s in line with who they are. And that’s when their people feel it too. Then the whole thing flows so much more easily.
So yah, branding matters.
So does the whole rest of the business pie. All the pieces matter. So let’s stop asserting one is more or less important than the other, shall we? Or that one or the other piece doesn’t matter. And just find out which piece is most important to us personally, and where we’re at right NOW.
Just like in my article about your business being an ecosystem, all the parts feed, support and sustain eachother, so it’s just a matter of surveying the landscape to see what needs some watering.
I have seen new branding and design absolutely transform people and businesses. I have seen how new branding and design ends in multimillion dollar deals. I have seen how new branding ends in slow and steady growth. I have also seen how new branding has ended in nothing because the person expected it alone to carry them without doing the other parts of the pie.
I have seen it all, but here’s what I know:
It is those whose vision outweighs their fears who find success. Those who remain committed through the inevitable ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey. It is those who stay the course, and continually reaffirm what MATTERS to them, and let that be their true north.
Those are the ones that rise.
And ANY ONE OF US can be one of those.
The sky is not the limit.
What I love most about branding and design is how it lets people see and experience themselves and their business in a whole new way. Like the first time someone sees a really good photograph of themselves, their spirit truly captured, and they want to cry and say “is that really me?”.
It takes someone outside your own head (and outside their own head) to capture that, and bring it forward. And the ripple effect of that is immense.
So do not underestimate the power of design to connect you with your people, nor to connect you with yourself, and your true north…
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P.S. if branding and design is the piece of the pie you’re most needing to water right now, you can find me at The Salty Olive.