(Feature image: with thanks to Jenny Cvek on Unsplash)
We are often find ourselves advising people - mostly younger than ourselves – entrepreneurially-minded, brave, launching a start-up, just beginning, in effect, voyages of self-discovery.
Utterly unqualified to give “advice” in any psychotherapeutic sense, we have observed a few things, on our own path, about creating successful brands. These reflections are less about the business and marketing side – obviously crucial and ‘How To’ practical, rational, tried'n'tested content is everywhere, including on this very site – but more on the human side.
Brand building from scratch is not for the faint-hearted. It takes emotional commitment and energy not just practical know-how, funding, and professional knowledge.
No matter how brilliant the business idea, or how experienced one is, business creation is a journey of heart, mind and spirit - because that’s what these things turn out to be.
Here's 9 thoughts from us:
1. It's OK to change your mind
Business founders have strong opinions. Sometimes these can be based on superficial impressions or the borrowed ideas of others. Sometimes time, thought and facts are needed for a cast iron business case to be made. Businesspeople find it hard to say, “I don’t know.” But it’s infinitely more rewarding to understand better— yes, research can help - even if that means changing your mind about an issue.
2. Status, money or approval alone are not enough
We have worked with second and third generation UHNW’s business entrepreneurs. Inherited wealth tends not to produce convincing ‘Why’ sections of a Brand Strategy. If the purpose of business ventures is, at core, unclear or superficial it can undermine real, robust, success.
Brand consultants can make meaning but we can’t fake meaning.
To clients everywhere. Be generous, if you can, with your time and, if you can, your resources. With giving credit. With your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator. Always remember there is a human being on the other end of every exchange. To understand and be understood, those are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.
4. Creativity can come from boredom and stillness
We're not fans of the Self-Help/’Lifestyle Tips for Success’ manuals. But yes, meditate. Walk. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming and boredom.
The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into life and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.
Not just clickbait content for the work-obsessed Generations X and Y. Sleep also affects our every waking moment, dictates our social rhythm, and mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honour that validates our work ethic. But it can be seen as a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity?
6. There's more to life than productivity
We say this lightly to all budding business entrepreneurs and salute their energy and passion to do what they do. Building a brand is hard work. We note, softly, that society measures our worth as humans by our efficiency, our earnings, our relentless ability to do things. Work is the new religion. Worshipping at this altar of productivity and Mammon mercilessly can deprive one of the joys and wonders that makes life worth living.
7. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
(Coco Chanel - 1935 | Kristine | Flickr)
You know the pros and cons of our knee-jerk, instant-response, immediate culture. The myth of the overnight success is usually just that — a myth. Brand building usually takes time. Its presentation/communication tools can be created relatively quickly: brand strategy, brand narrative, creative assets, websites, name generation, visual identity, logo etc.
For new luxury brand start-ups one needs time to establish roots, heritage, history, and continued relevance.
8. Don’t succumb to the tyranny of perfection
From Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi. 1994, Andre Agassi found himself on a losing streak. He asked his manager for advice:
His manager replies:
"The problem is perfectionism.
You always try to be perfect, and you always fall short, and it f**ks with your head. Your confidence is shot, and perfectionism is the reason. You try to hit a winner on every ball, when just being steady, consistent, meat and potatoes, would be enough to win ninety percent of the time.
"Quit going for the knockout, he says. All you have to be is solid. Singles, doubles, move the chains forward. Stop thinking about yourself, and your own game, and remember that the guy on the other side of the net has weaknesses. Attack his weaknesses. You don't have to be the best in the world every time you go out there. You just have to be better than one guy. Instead of you succeeding, make him fail. Better yet, let him fail. It's all about odds and percentages..
"Right now, by trying for a perfect shot with every ball, you're stacking the odds against yourself. You're assuming too much risk. You don't need to assume so much risk. F**k that. Just keep the ball moving. Back and forth. Nice and easy. Solid. Be like gravity, man, just like motherf**king gravity.
When you chase perfection, when you make perfection the ultimate goal, do you know what you're doing? You're chasing something that doesn't exist. You're making everyone around you miserable. You're making yourself miserable.
Perfection? There's about five times a year you wake up perfect, when you can't lose to anybody, but it's not those five times a year that make a tennis player. Or a human being, for that matter. It's the other times.
It's all about your head, man. With your talent, if you're fifty percent game-wise, but ninety-five percent head-wise, you're going to win. But if you're ninety-five percent game-wise and fifty percent head-wise, you're going to lose, lose, lose."
With this advice Agassi went on to one of the most successful periods of his career.
The flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one sprint burst and yet, as a culture, we are not interested in the boredom and slowness of the blossoming. (Though for many, it’s the ‘pre-success’ section that is most engaging, interesting, part of a business founder story)
It is where all the emotion lies - in the making of personal and professional character and destiny.
(With thanks to Merritt Thomas | Unsplash)
To all budding brand creators - think Anew
Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution. We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.
Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.
Get in touch here.