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Image vs Content

December 15, 2013

I have been told by many that image matters and I have to agree.  First impressions count,  great branding wins clients, looks professional, boosts sales and helps people to fall in love with you. I also have to agree that looking good (or at least looking your best)  really does make you feel better.  But recently I’ve been finding that some people are forgetting that without content and substance all you have is an empty promise, a facade.

What good is a branding iron without a cow?

What good is a branding iron without a cow?

After yet another ‘Image is everything Daaaarling’ piece of advice was flung in my general direction (I’m not a devil for detail,  tend to wear clothes and shoes well past their ‘crisp and clean’ best (although I do wash them of course),  have glasses that are held together by glue (and another pair that are somewhat scratched) and a bead collection that include those that I’ve tied together, hand-made items from my children and hand-me-downs from friends and relatives)  I found myself doubting my own point of view.  Maybe I COULD do better, try harder,  impress more?  Maybe how I look IS limiting my business?   And that goes for my online presence too.  I am aware that brand ‘Realize Beauty’ isn’t fully REALIZED yet – a good six years on from its birth – but there are good reasons for that. Reasons that I will go into in a moment.

I sat with that self-doubt for a while, allowing myself to feel the emotions, breathe the energy in and out,  listen to how it sounds and finally to stand back and look at the shape and size of it.  Was I REALLY that bad?  Was my image REALLY that dysfunctional or was it,  is it an accurate reflection of my reality?

In terms of my looks I have to say that what you see is what you get and as the last six years have felt like an apprenticeship or ‘coming-of-age’ ritual I think the look is spot on.  I have spent a good deal of time and money working out who I am, what I want and what I value over this time. This ‘soul searching’ was something that I never set out to do but after several ‘I don’t know who I am any more’ moments I knew that it was finally time to find out.  And what a good time I had doing it!

Realising that you don’t know who you are is beyond scary, it is paralysing for a while.  My whole framework of reference was shattered. I questioned everything, desired answers when I  couldn’t even work out the questions and felt alone.  That said I am glad that I took the time to stare into the darkness, to get to know myself for who I am. Not the business me, the mum me or the wife me but the me who was born into this world, the me who went travelling because she felt the call of the wind, the me who dared to jump from the cozy salaried corporate world, the me who loved life.  And find her I did.

And that’s the thing.  Once you KNOW who you are you no longer feel the need to comply to a stereotype because you realise that people are far more complex and nuanced than that.  You are insanely (and I say that with the utmost respect) passionate about being authentic, you need no explanation or censoring.  What’s more you believe that this light that is now radiating from you will attract only that which feeds you be they customers, friends, loved ones or other opportunities.   As such any attempt to conform feels like you are telling the biggest lie in history and that isn’t good.

But we do partly comply because we know that while most people love the idea of creative and personal freedom they only feel comfortable with it if it comes in a form they understand. And for our business image that is OK. We can live with that.

And so to content.

The reason my professional image has been less that polished is because I’ve spent the best part of the last six years investing in content.  I’ve been writing and researching like a daemon, experimenting, playing, testing and fine-tuning everything from stability tests to bespoke formulations and that has left me exhausted.  I made that choice because I didn’t set up my business to look good and make me look important,  I set it up to give me a place to explore, experiment and enjoy.   I have learned so much over the last six years,  grown in confidence and experience and most importantly gained a real appreciation for the science and the scientific process behind product development.  I could not have done this so fully and deeply if I had been constantly peering over my shoulder wondering about how I look or more accurately how others were seeing me.  After all I was lucky, for the last three years I have been able to make a decent living out of what I do, have enjoyed a good blog following and have an active Facebook page.  Even blind Freddy could see that it wasn’t all bad….

But could I have done better if my image was a bit more polished?

Well, that’s the million dollar question and of course I will never know what could have or would have been but what I do know is that whenever I’ve had clients come to be because of what they THOUGHT I was rather than what I ACTUALLY am things become frustrating.

So what now?

Well now I have reached another phase in my business.  I have invested in knowing my products and am now able to deliver,  I have gained enough wisdom to know the limits of my understanding and feel comfortable  recognising and saying ‘no’ to what doesn’t fit.  I have earned respect, friendship and support through mutual understanding and appreciation.  I am still learning but am open for business.

So now my thoughts return to the idea that Image is everything and I realise what it means.

My efforts to create solid, unique content be they products or services  deserve to be celebrated and shared as that is what will feed more (and more is exactly what I want) My public facing  image or BRAND will be the light, the beacon that drives traffic to my door.  But not just any traffic, the traffic that carries my friends, family, tribe.  That image, that light deserves respect, deserves to be given a good shot at success because I now know that what the brand starts reality can finish.

Building a corporate image or brand is often the first thing that my clients try to do and is often where they spend all of their budget coming to me cash-poor but desperate for some content to sell under this brand of awesomeness.  My advice would always be to do things the other way around but each to their own, it all works out in the end…..

And with that I turn my attention to the future, to 2014, the year that I promise to make brand Realize Beauty as awesome as the content.

I think I’m going to enjoy this now.

I am ready.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2013 12:43 am

    You sure sound ready. And I think you will do just fine.

  2. December 16, 2013 1:26 am

    Dear Amanda,
    I am a new start-up, not quite launched- but you’d love my products- Vegan Gluten Free- USDA & NPA certified etc. aan AUTHENTIC. TRUTH comes with a central message about identity and beauty grounded in spiritual soil. I was wondering if we could talk via phone sometime soon. I have some ideas! MY website is not up yet-
    Let me know…Maureen

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      December 16, 2013 7:17 am

      Hi Maureen,
      If you email me with more details I’ll take a look. I’m sure we can arrange a chat after that as it does sound interesting.

      • December 16, 2013 8:57 am

        Hi Amanda, I have trademarked TRUTH for the cosmetic line & domain name is
        The website is not up- so it is hard to “show” you much. I can give you a pekl at what I am working on. All the foundations are named after remarkable women in the bible :

        I want to share/sell only healthy products BUT offer free resources for women to help navigate through cultural pressures and standards of beauty. Create a new definition and encourage women to be all they were meant to be .It is a brand that stands for something beyond its product – movement material. 🙂 Hope to chat when you can!

      • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
        December 16, 2013 9:36 am

        That is quite funny really as when I started I bought domains for as it was an idea I had. Then I realised I didn’t want to own a brand. Good luck, I’ll have a look.

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