Finding the “Real” in Branding

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The word is batted around effortlessly, like a beach ball in the late innings of a baseball game. I say this knowing I’m one of the guilty parties. Not a day goes bye without that word rolling off my tongue in some way, shape, or form. If you’re looking to grow your business you have no doubt heard the calling:

  • “Create untold success by building your personal brand!”
  • “Find and express your brand archetype.”
  • “Come learn the art of branding!”
  • “Do you know your brand attributes?”

Branding, as an idea, has become so visible that it is beginning to lose its luster. It feels hollow, self-absorbed, and materialistic.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. After all, we aren’t talking about positioning a box of Kellogg’s cereal. We’re talking about you and your work. In that regard, the realm of “branding” takes on a different tone. It’s a process grounded in having clarity of purpose, a genuine emotional connection with others, and consistency of behavior that sets people’s expectations. It is real, and tangible, and a part of what makes you, you.

Is it a superficial and ego-driven process? It can be, but it also has the potential to be a process that positively impacts you and the people you hope to serve.

There are a seemingly infinite number of messages conveyed, conscious or otherwise, each and every day. These messages have an effect on our everyday reality. They serve to influence, persuade, and move those who come in contact with them. If you’re aware of this phenomenon, and you take the time to align the elements of yourself (e.g., personality, beliefs, skills, passions) with an overall experience, well…then you allow the very best of you to surface and find its way to your audience. This is what tips the scales for a person who seeks employment and finds a plethora of “hidden” job opportunities from those who already know and recognize her value. You can contrast that example with someone who has no “brand recognition”. That person toils away in obscurity, sending resumes to unknown places with little to no response. This connection between self and experience is also what helps to move little known businesses into places of relevance where clients actively seek their counsel and help spread the word to others in the community.

Messaging takes on many forms, and it moves through us constantly. In other words, you have a “Brand” whether you want one or not! It many not be based in truth, but it takes form nonetheless. Even the slightest changes in your position can have a profound impact as to how you are perceived.

I recently worked with a talented therapist who was looking to grow her practice, and as part of our process, we had professional photos taken that were more in line with the spirit of her work. She used one of the new photos in a national directory that had produced limited results in the past. All of a sudden, her listing spoke to people, and her phone began to ring. She stood out in a sea of choices. Her “brand” out in the field of awareness shifted ever so slightly, and that small change hinted at powerful things to come.

Crafting a clear message and vision for your work does not need to take on the elements of a get rich scheme, it doesn’t need to be an exercise in how to manipulate the minds of others, nor should it require you to compromise your values. On the contrary, building a “brand” is the act of being your self. It gives you the opportunity to create your own unique experience for others.

And there’s nothing hollow about that.



  1. Kathy Murphy  September 6, 2011

    EXCELLENT article… right on. Forget the word branding, it is the process and the willingness to do the work of knowing who you really are, what you value and what you have to offer…this information is necessary in ALL aspects of our lives, not just the work we do. And when you don’t know your ‘brand” or the “brand” that you are putting out there, well, let’s just say….life is better when you do know. Thanks David for such a perfect blending of our deep personal, internal work and our outer lives.

  2. David  September 7, 2011

    Thanks Kathy. The work you do around personal growth is such a critical part of the “branding” process!

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