Brand Owners – Realize Your Beauty
Behind every brand is an idea and behind every idea is a person who has taken a great leap of faith to realize their dream. I have worked with many different brands over the past six years and have witnessed the highs and lows of this sometimes exciting, sometimes terrifying journey. Everything I have learned from being part of that process is poured into Realize Beauty so that I might help smooth that path for the next excited idea carrier who crosses my path.
I have been thinking about the process of brand development, of what makes it work and what sees it slowly die for some time now. Building a brand is expensive and while many of my brand owners don’t have a large pot of money at the beginning (very few if any customers come and say ‘well I have a substantial budget so let’s just focus on doing this right and as long as the costs are reasonable I’m in’. Most say ‘What can I get for $3000?’) by the time the brand has launched and is selling a substantial amount of money and more importantly time has been invested.
But that isn’t enough. It is possible to be busy but going nowhere.
The one thing that sets apart the winners from the losers is the vision, the story, the personality behind the brand. That certain something, the ‘X’ factor. For brands that have been created by investors that are breaking into a market segment with a ‘me too’ product finding this personality is relatively easy – the new brand just has to be bigger, better, stronger, longer, better value, easier to get etc. You have a clear benchmark or competitor, you analyse the hell out of it, find their weakness then pounce. All being well you will fit right in and make a killing. For a short time……
But not all brands have that story.
The brands that I work with usually have a personal attachment to their vision. They want to create something truly beautiful, something evolutionary, artistic, emotionally intelligent or with a higher functionality than before. These visions come from inside the brand owners heart and that is where things can get a little tricky.
Heart Vs Head? Yin vs Yan, Right Brain vs Left Brain, Artist Vs Accountant?
It can feel a bit like that is what is happening when I first sit down with a new or prospective brand owner. They pour out their hearts vision and I listen. Then I start fleshing the vision out with structure, practicality, probing emotional questions, chemistry, legal considerations, finances and other essentials. Experience and a genuine interest and love of the process and the people who I work with has taught how to tease this information out, to empower rather than destroy an idea, to help ‘grow it up’ so to speak but as with all coming of age stories there is always a chapter or two of pain and loss before the inevitable enlightenment. I don’t enlighten the brand owner, they do it themselves, I am merely the facilitator or hand-holder for that process.
The pain and loss part of the brand owners journey is all about vulnerability and I’ve found that without fail the brands that go the distance have slapped their vulnerabilities on the table and viewed them from all sides before building a bridge and getting over them. Those who fail to do this end up exhausted.
I never enjoy the part where someones great idea is seen for the long-hard journey that it inevitably will be as nobody in their right mind wants to be responsible for pushing that so longed for dream out of reach. But I appreciate that without that we can’t get stuck in to the good stuff and have taken to saying ‘no’ to customers who decide that this process isn’t for them. There are plenty of other formulators and technical minds to try instead.
We all feel vulnerable at times and with vulnerability comes the inevitable fear – fear of failing, of looking silly, of wasting money (the shame of wasting other people’s money), of missing out on family life for nothing, of ‘missing the boat’, of not being good enough/ not worthy. I know how all of that feels. It isn’t the stuff that dreams are made of and that’s for sure.
So if embracing your vulnerability is key to brand success for many customers then maybe we should stop trying to Photoshop the scars out. Maybe we should find a way to weave those scars, that experience, that enlightenment into our vision.
Maybe we could fly……