Finding Your Branding “I am” Statement [Day 21/365]

Insignia flower

A brand is more than a label. It’s a promise to everyone who invests in you. This is why it’s important to be clear about what you stand for as a company, and what people get every time they deal with you.

Some people are very good at defining themselves on this core level, while others find stepping into bold claims a little more slippery. (Hint: If you’re one of these people, chances are you’re smart and using your intelligence to engage in “what if”-isms that leave you paralyzed and uncertain, while people who are less thoughtful zoom past you with confidence. It takes the time that it takes to define yourself, but don’t “what if” yourself out of your own truth.)

Building a brand requires an “I am” statement on behalf of your company. When you put your uniform on, who are you? What do you do? How can people count on you?

If you can infuse all that into a symbol people remember, then you are on your way to leaving your mark in this world.

Finding Your Vintage [Day 20/365]

Day 20/365. Sheralyn Pratt
All who hang a shingle
bring a vintage to
their hometown

This post is going up a day late because yesterday was more of a Behind the Scenes day where there’s really nothing to share with the class … yet.

But I was thinking about all the towns I’ve driven into across the years and how many of them are just strip malls anymore. I’m always a little bummed when a small town turns out to be a franchise outpost, and more than a little amped when I find some quirky spot with well-loved stores.

So that’s where this thought comes from, along with a shout out to all of you who have ever hung a shingle out in this world.

Anyone who’s built a business can tell you that it is an emotional rollercoaster. Until you master the fine art of turning idealistic visions into budgeted business decisions, even small decisions can feel like a mountain of a molehill.

It takes a while to get your business legs and, truth be told, not everyone is built to turn their passion into a sustainable business. Most of us much prefer to deliver on an amateur’s schedule — choosing when and how we show up and limiting deliveries to audiences we are comfortable with.

This is one of the reasons banks prefer to provide business loans to people who are rather dispassionate about their product. Because they want to invest in businesses that are positioned to capitalize and profit, not passion projects with motivations that can cool based on mood.

Yet if you are truly hanging out a shingle and putting your name out there, it’s because you feel you can fill a niche in a market that currently isn’t hitting its mark. You can do it better, which makes you wonder if you can compete with what big business is churning out.

To compete, you’ll need to do new things at uncomfortable speeds and terrifying heights, while sharing a stage with polished professionals who don’t miss a trick. It’s intimidating. And it’s easy to buy into imposter syndrome — especially when learning how to deliver what you do on a scale when everyone around already seems to have everything nailed down.

You’ve always got to learn, observe, adjust, repeat — improving every day.

Building a brand a process of curation, as much so as making cheese or wine or developing a crop. It takes some time and the novice tries to invest too much up-front.

But to all those who make it through this daunting gauntlet to build your brand and establish your reputation, I salute you.

Keep being you and keep leaving your mark.