There is a lot of science and research to building a brand. Knowing the right things to say, the right colors to differentiate yourself from the competition, all that other stuff that is tactically important to the job. It is important, absolutely. However it is easy to approach branding with all head and no heart, which is where things go wrong. Most likely, it is because entrepreneurs and change-makers overlook a giant piece of the puzzle: themselves.
That's right, you. You have a story. You have been places others haven't, you have a personality, and you have envisioned a world different than the one you currently inhabit (that's why you're in business after all, to change the world). You are a rebel because you've decided that the current way things are is not satisfactory. You are driving change.
My ask is this: don't lose sight of how important your story is. It is your biggest asset in building a brand.
A common occurrence I hear from clients when discussing the attributes of their brand follows something along these lines: "We want it to look professional, but still playful."
Reading between the lines, what they are saying is this "we don't want to turn anyone off, so we are cool without adorning a personality that would offend anyone."
You cannot build a brand off that. Professional and playful are polar opposites on the spectrum. Your brand becomes a tied to two horses pulling in opposite directions and you go nowhere.
This comes in common forms, like companies that tout innovation and creativity, yet stick to a corporate blue because it won't offend anybody. Or the companies who claim to be different but choose to speak and act like their already successful competitors.
What would have been an otherwise inventive and distinct brand is torn in half by a lack of commitment.
Rather than trying to be everything, be something.
Luke Skywalker is the greatest example of the "hero" archetype. He has humble beginnings and does not understand his full potential. At least, not until he is called to adventure after the murder of his Aunt, Uncle, and the desperate call of Princess Leia. Facing down this behemoth of a journey, you gotta wonder what was going on in his head at the time.
"I have no skills beyond moisture farming and I'm a decent pilot, but taking on the Empire? I need help."
That's where Obi-Wan Kenobi comes into play. The old wizard who sees the greatness within Luke and helps him to overcome his own, self-imposed limits. Despite the fact that Luke is lost without him, Obi-Wan never lets it be known. He's not focused on his own success, he's focused on the success of Luke. If Luke succeeds, that is his victory. Granted, he does all he can offering mentorship (guidance and knowledge of the Force), tools (lightsaber), instruction and feedback, and, most importantly, honest encouragement.
Here's the thing:
Most companies see themselves as Luke.They think they are the hero, that saving the world depends on them. They are wrong and their self-interest will not inspire others to be better. To quote Marty Neumeier "the best brand builders see greatness in their customers, and figure out ways to enable it."
Unleash your inner Obi-Wan, you rebel.