By Emily Soccorsy and Justin Foster
The marketing world is over-saturated with formulas. This is because formulas are intended to remove uncertainty. And because uncertainty is the boondoggle of human existence. There’s no way to remove uncertainty, folks. Life is uncertainty.
And as part of that: all formulas are flawed. Most formulas only work for some people, some of the time. That’s the reality.
There is no one way to do anything — especially in marketing and branding. Not coincidentally, when someone proclaims their way is the best, they are inevitably selling a formula.
In this pressure cooker, as business owners, we come under the impression that we need to pick a formula, buy it and stick to it. We think we must comply with what the market of marketing is selling. We think different.
Underneath the conference attending, click funneling and formula implementing, we see this deep human need to not do all that. To just be, instead. We consistently hear from people who feel a deep sense of relief when they hear our message: forget the formula.
When we sing that song, it resonates, because it’s a melody from our hearts and it is true.
Instead, be wonderfully weird.
Instead of focusing on what formula to buy, have you considered what it is that makes you magic? What about the way you handle yourself? What about the way you treat your spirit? What about the way you create ease, or joy, for your clients?
Do you know how you do it?
Do you talk about it? Daily? Is it on your website?
So what is certain? What is some solid ground on which to stand?
We are certain that three things are certain in branding.
First, your weirdness is your most natural differentiator. Your quirks, neurosis, foibles are indicators of your uniqueness. From a branding perspective, they are foundational building blocks from which to build a truly different brand. Don’t want to do focus groups? Don’t! Want to pay your employees way more than the market rate says you should? Do it! Want to close early on Fridays instead of having more billable time? Do that!
Second, your mission is certain. You may not yet have done the deep work and the articulation of your mission (for that we invite you to a BrandLab), but you do have an inner knowing. You do have a sense that this business you are growing exists to do more than just produce profit. In your reflective moments, you do see how your experiences and choices got you to this point. You do have the strategic intuition to know what feels right and what doesn’t. Then you have the wisdom to make that your strategy. Not some formula someone else used.
Third, your message is certain. The message of your brand (same as your message) must be from your deepest heart and must speak to the heart of others. A message is what your heart must say to the world before you depart this place. So, say it. If people are offended (some will be), let them go. If people love it, they’ll let you know. The truth is most people will be indifferent. If you don’t share your message: no one will listen or react to anything at all. Worse than that: if you share a bland, safe and watered down message, people will learn to ignore you.
Ultimately, you don’t have to do anything that is not right for you — true in life, true in branding.
Your best pursuit is to find the flow that works well for your weirdness, serves your mission and shares your message.
This will serve you best when you find yourself humming along and when the reality of uncertainty scratches the record off.
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.