As the glue-sticks, scissors, and magazine cut-outs were thrown about, my friend Hayley called my name.
"Zach, I found your word."
She held up a magazine page to show me the word REBEL in all caps and in black and white nonetheless.
Now, here is what's flattering: that is my word, and I've been using it since I started working for myself in late 2017. It's a small thing, but that fact that I did not have to claim that as my word and instead had someone else claim it for me means that I've become synonymous with it.
Why does this matter?
Building a brand is about making people feel a certain way about your business. If you're lucky, you can get the same emotional response from different people that interact with your company. So when someone says the exact word I want them to feel about me, it shows that I'm on the right track.
If I had tried owning all the words, there's no way Hayley would've made that comment yesterday. But because I've invested and gone all in on the word REBEL, she made the connection instantly.
Find your word.
A friend of mine and I met up yesterday. She's a talented artist and creative thinker, but she's struggling with getting her work out there and attracting commissions/clients. It's a common issue for creative types to stall the display of any kind of work to the public unless they deem it perfect. The truth... it's never going to be perfect. You have a better chance at winning the lottery than you do creating the perfect piece to show, especially if you have particular expectations.
She had asked, "what do I need to do to get out there?"
"You need to make something everyday, for fun, for yourself, and show it to the world."
Lo and behold, within the span of 45 minutes today, she had an awesome collage piece completed and ready to go. I'd call that a win.
Here's the thing:
You will always be nervous taking the first steps into a new venture. Be it founding a startup, putting yourself out there as an artist, starting a band, you name it. If you want to get to the top of the mountain, you have to take the first step. It's gonna suck at first, you're going to suck at first. But you will get better and it will get easier if you dedicate yourself to small habits that will make up your success.
Go for it, I believe in you.
When training for an athletic event, we subject ourselves to pain in hopes of getting better. We strain our muscles to the point that cells begin to breakdown. Another way of thinking about this, is that a they die. However a new, stronger cell or group of cells takes its place.
Without the initial expiration of the first cell, the new ones can't exist.
The same goes for your brand. If you are going to change the way people feel about you, or at the very least continue to build and improve upon it, you must say goodbye to the parts that have grown weary.
Some examples of what this would look like:
Cutting services or offerings that don't align with your positioning.
Changing your name to better reflect your brand's character.
Refining the culture of your company to foster the brand.
Creating a unique identity that is totally different from the previous one.
Letting go of toxic people who don't align with your values.
Having the courage to throw it all away in the hopes of creating something greater.