By Emily Soccorsy and Justin Foster
A brand doesn’t magically appear.
A logo might. But not a brand.
Brands are really deeply seeded ideas, so they take time to formulate completely, mature and bear fruit.
Brands are made, not in a moment, but in moments — big and small.
Where do these moments arise from? How do we tend to them? Just like in life, many of them are unplanned.
Have ever considered what your brand moments are?
Anytime people interact your with brand is a brand moment. Anytime you talk about your brand or business with someone who has not heard about it before is a brand moment. Hiring and onboarding a new person to your team is a brand moment. Speaking in front of a larger audience than would fit in front of your desk is a brand moment.
When is your next conversation about your business?
Are you hiring someone this year?
Do you have any plans to speak to a group this year?
In any of these scenarios, are you clear on what you will share? How you will express your brand?
Our client and friend Mike O’Krent had a big moment recently during his TedX talk, one which we were honored to help him prepare for.
A business owner his entire life, Mike didn’t take that opportunity to speak about his business, to pitch people to buy crap or to boast about his success. Instead, Mike choose to speak about the ideas that move him, the emotionally poignant moments in his life, the ones that choke him up and give him great joy. He chose to share the ideas that inform the soulful work he has chosen to do in various manifestations throughout his career.
Great brands always stay in the idea business.
Sure, they market their products and services. But they also leave plenty of space for ideas to emerge from themselves, their team and their clients. They know the ideas produce the products, which is why they put ideas higher on the priority hierarchy that products.
So again, how do you tend to these ideas, these moments?
We say, prepare for the unplanned and plan for the planned.
Language matters. What you say about your brand, the words you carefully select, and how you feel about them, has the most impact on how your message will be received. Period. If you feel unclear or insecure about how you talk about your brand, that’s how your audience will feel.
Take time. Again, branding is a practice. It takes time to cultivate and does not spontaneously come out of your mouth. It takes consideration, noticing, practice and refinement. If you are serious about developing your brand, set aside time this year to do this work.
Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff unplugged for 2 weeks last year. And from that came a flood of revelations, new ideas and new moments. The lesson? Many moments don’t come from working harder. They come from the pause; the liminal moment between things that produce even more moments. These pauses usually don’t happen on their own. We must make them happen.
Make a plan. If you do not commit yourself to speak about your brand to a larger audience (a group of five or more people counts) this year, you will not do it. If you are serious about building your brand, sign yourself up to talk to a mastermind group, to a gathering of contemporaries, to a local business organization. Put this planned moment on the calendar. Then work toward it.
Get an outside perspective. Listen, sports fans. We know we might seem self-serving by advocating this, but the reality is you cannot brand in a vacuum. What sounds good in your muddy, muddy mind will 9,999 out of 10,000 times fall flat in the eardrums — and heart– of another human. Seek outside counsel on your brand.
Finally, and most importantly, commit to the long game of branding. The best things in life and in business take time, and pacing, to fully manifest and to fully enjoy.
In our insanely paced culture, this is a counter-cultural idea: slow down. Be steady and consistent. Expect results to blossom over time.
If you do, the moments — planned and unplanned — won’t pass you by.
Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster are cofounders of the intrinsic branding practice known as Root + River. Together with their defiantly different clients, they uncover then articulate the foundational elements of the brand. Then, they provide brand strategy and brand coaching as the brand is rolled out internally and externally. Obsessive about language and differentiation, Emily + Justin are also authors and speakers. Follow @rootandriver @fosterthinking and @emilyatlarge.