I’m talking to my brilliant brand strategist friend, Carli Anna, and she is talking about conversations with clients. “They always send me the same websites for inspiration.” My interest is piqued and I ask her which ones. They’re always the same industry leaders.
If you’ve ever scoured every inch of someone’s website to try to figure out how you can best recreate what they’ve done, if you’ve ever picked a group of fonts to match (but not totally match) them, if you’ve ever decided to take their colors and just adjust them a little, if you’ve ever styled your imagery to look basically like theirs, if you’ve ever taken the sentences in their captions and mostly just changed the food choices, if you’ve ever hired someone and sent them someone else’s website that you wish you could have…you know how frustrating it is when you reverse engineer someone’s brand success and it doesn’t work.
It doesn’t work because there’s something off, and you can feel it.
I know this deeply because I’ve done it. But business success doesn’t work like this. Having as beautiful of a brand as someone doesn’t get you where you want to go.
The truth is that no brand right now becomes a profitable business because they have a great logo, great images, or copy.
They become a profitable business because the awesomeness of their brand could come through whether they ever create great brand assets or not.
However, you might find yourself feeling pressure when you start needing to reach a wider audience than you currently have. You’ll feel like the way to combat that is to have a perfect website and beautiful everything in order to reach them. I want to caution you against this. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on my brand, and some of the investments have been really rewarding, while others were not. And it wasn’t the level of talent I hired. It was me. I want to offer a vision of how things can be instead.
Let’s think of this Ball of Light as something more tangible: a maple tree. A maple tree can have all kinds of ways to add value to my life. The beautiful way it’s shaped on my property, the rustling of the leaves, the changing colors in the fall, the shade over my bench, the syrup, the limbs for the kids to climb on, a specimen to study scientific questions, and of course the wood. But the maple tree itself is not a brand or a product or a message. It is a creation. It just is. If you were to try to explain its value from an objective standpoint, you could spend eternity cataloguing its every moment of existence from a thousand perspectives, or you could pair it down to a few general words that give very little information like: life, love, beauty.
A maple tree gets used in conjunction with a brand or a product or a message when someone realizes that there’s a specific way you can use a maple tree to help someone else with a problem. You make that maple tree mean something beyond its creation, and now it’s a tangible solution.
If we think about your brand as a Ball of Light like a maple tree, what happens is that what you’ve created feels so beautiful and whole, that to take a slice of it in order to market it feels wrong. In the past, I’ve thought that means I must be doing something wrong. So I ask someone else to do it for me. To perceive what the Ball of Light is from the outside and to fit it into a nice box for me. That’s impossible. A Ball of Light will always resist being marketed as a whole.
You need to approach your brand knowing that no amount of marketing will ever fully encapsulate the Ball of Light within you. It is an infinite source of beauty and power for you to continually understand further and further. This is an amazing asset for you as a human, and also as a business owner.
In branding, your job as the discoverer of the Ball of Light, is to understand that your products, services, and programs are fruits of the Ball of Light. NOT the Ball of Light. Learn what this Ball of Light feels like in words, images, shapes, and color, so that you can truthfully convey on the outside how things feel on the inside. This will help people feel the value of the fruits. It is ethical to sell the fruits of your Ball of Light. It’s only right to share it so more people can experience and feel their lives improved because of what you’ve discovered and created.
Then, branding will be easy, fresh, and lucrative. Once things feel right, it will be easy for them to look right.
When you are aligned this way, money you spend on your brand will be worthwhile investments. Maybe one quarter you’ll work on imagery, another you’ll work on design, another you’ll work on copy. You don’t need to have everything done at the same time. As you continue to understand the Ball of Light and the particular fruit that you’re offering in this season, you can keep putting out more and more as you gain more clarity on what your work is all about. The good news is that once you’re aligned this way, there are hundreds of templates and brand service providers who can help you bridge the branding gap. You’ll feel when you’re ready.
If you’re wanting to know more about your specific Ball of Light you’re meant to discover and create, go to findmyheartstory.com. Your Heart Story will be an easy access point to your Ball of Light. If you want to learn more about how to profitably create, position, sell, and market any of the fruits you’ll create from this beautiful Ball of Light, check out our programs for every stage of your journey to do just that.
Emma Natter is a business coach and writer. Her work intersects entrepreneurial strategies with the creative process so career hopefuls can find success, impact, fulfillment, and confidence in going their own way.
I’m Emma Natter, a path-to-success paver and art-trained business coach who first shattered her own career expectations by selling out of handmade styling goods from her little NYC apartment. Now as a strategist to thousands of creatives, I teach you to harness your passion so you can do the same.
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