- experimentation, and
Each part of this branding process is difficult in its own way.
Reflection is difficult because it forces us to answer uncomfortable questions about ourselves, our weak spots, our awkward past. Functionally, introspection is difficult because many of us don’t know how or don’t practice it regularly, instead looking externally for answers. This is fine when you’re a consumer and want to simply buy things that resonate.
However this is a problem when you’re a founder, and your brand is supposed to be authentic, rooted in a cohesive philosophy and potentially become a symbol of some greater transcendent ideal. Where else would this come from except from within the founder?
Experimentation is difficult because this implies many trials, often being wrong, often working through ambiguity, slowly calibrating each iteration and hopefully, arriving at clarity. Entrepreneurs seldom have the time for this. And most of the time, we don’t even have an overview of our regular/core activities… so it’s really hard to think of what would be different.
But mostly, experimentation is difficult because it hurts to be wrong. So check your ego at the door. Because experimentation also means learning. It means growth. It means opportunity.
Expression is difficult because it’s a kind of commitment. If these are the things that you stand for, then you actually have to live up to it. No matter how authentic, every great brand has an element of aspiration. Every great brand suggests a vision of a better world. Every great brand promises some alleviation of pain, scratches some itch.
Yet so often, in the beginning of the process there is much uncertainty and awkwardness, until the brand does find its voice… and until the brand delivers their vision, however flawed that delivery might be. Because every great brand also understands it’s not the ideal that matters, but the consistent long-term expression and attempt of realizing that ideal that truly matters.
All of this is to say that branding as an entrepreneur, as a solopreneur, as an independent creative is dishearteningly difficult… and absolutely worth it. Because on the other side of all these difficulties, branding enables a deeper clarity about ourselves, about what we want, about the world we want to be a part of.
Through the process, we find new truths about ourselves, new capabilities and potential services, and find new customers and collaborators that we actually enjoy working with… on the other side of it. So see you on the other side!