For the sake of raising awareness, see if you can recognize your own and other brands you know in these 3 descriptions of common types of brands today (you may have a center of gravity around one of these, but on a given day, your activity pulls you towards another)…
A bland brand is one that does not risk standing out (i.e. “we care about your success”—you mean, like everyone else?). They may not put out marketing communications at all, or when they do, they sound so much like others that they may as well be invisible.
Ryan and I can strongly relate to this one—as individuals we’ve previously defaulted towards staying quiet. From the vantage point of a bland brand, we are unconsciously limited by a fear of being rejected and a fear of success. This is how many brands without self-reflection can start out. It’s nobody’s fault that in the beginning, we are often unclear about our uniqueness, so the best we can do comes across as a generic organization.
To be more true to itself, a bland brand needs to come out of their cave, get into conversations, uncover their internal clarity, and develop a willingness to be seen.
A dominator brand puts out A LOT of marketing communications that may create dissonance and distrust through fake posturing and fear-based messages (i.e. “act now, before it’s too late!”). Dominator brands are unconsciously limited by a focus on self-success and a fear of failure. They forget about the meaning of serving customers while being motivated mainly by money and status.
Ryan and I have noticed this crop up in us many times, especially when we’re feeling the urgency of wanting our next set of clients to show up. We may want to appear more than who we are because, more than likely, a part of us believes this will lead to ‘success’.
To become more authentic, dominator brands need to relax their ‘work as battle’ mindset and let themselves be real. Ironically, the most honest and open brands gain more trust than the ones who pretend they are perfect.
A soulful brand seeks a balance between self-knowing and speaking up. Soulful brands practice being conscious about their level of integrity and their impact in the marketplace. By coming back to their true selves, they are seeking alignment between their highest intentions in thoughts, voices, and actions (or internal conversations, external communications, and behavior with customers). Ryan and I have been practicing this way for some time now, seeking resonance and connection through clear and inspiring messages that feel like our true voice.
This is a path of development, not a destination. If this is your path as of this moment, then you already have a soulful brand.
With too much ego, a brand can either become an overtly grandiose image of who they want to be (but are not) or a bland, diminished, homogenized member of the crowd. When there is little acceptance of the true self, the brand identity and its promotional efforts feel off. No promotional strategy can offset the feeling of being untrue to oneself—they must play off one another for both the organization to feel good inside, and for the customer to feel good engaging with them.
Regardless of where your brand is today, know that your intention matters most. From there, you can find a balance with the identity you are showing others via your work and the identity that is the true you.
No rush,… we’re all practicing ; )