I was talking to a client last week and heard myself say the very words I needed to hear and apply. It’s amazing how the people you’re meant to help often provide you ways to see and help yourself, too.
She’s been trying so hard to control what her brand is that she’s been struggling to write. “What if I write something that’s off-topic or off-brand?”
Given who she is, she couldn’t write anything off-topic and off-brand to save her life. She is who she is, and it’s going to show up no matter what she does.
Branding and positioning is a Stage 3 and 4 concern to be sure. At that point, you’re looking at the long-term vision and can clearly see what you do and don’t do.
The irony, though, is that because you’re so firm about what you’re about, you don’t have to worry about all the half existential, half entrepreneurial issues that you did in earlier stages. You remember those familiar friends, don’t you?: “Who am I? Why would anybody hire me or buy from me? Such-and-such is already doing what I want to do!” And so on.
Yet you still worry. It takes a while to let go of those operating assumptions.
You can’t position in a vacuum. If no one knows what you truly do, it doesn’t matter how much thought and planning you’ve put into being clear about who you are and what you do. They have to see you doing it.
At a certain point, everything you do becomes marketing, and, at the same time, you don’t have to worry about marketing. It’s an odd paradox – but it’s the way things are nonetheless.
And, lastly, the more visibility you get, the more you’ll notice that you really don’t have control of your brand anyway. People will take pieces of your brand and cling to it and forget about the other parts that aren’t relevant to their own story. People will reflect back better descriptions of your brand than you came up with – believe it or not, their stories are more important than yours.
Rocking the later stages of business is all about consistent performance. And, like any other performance, if you’ve done the research, preparation, and practice, you just need to let go and do your thing.
Let go. Do your thing. It’s the best way to reinforce your brand.