Let’s face it, we don’t only run our own businesses because we care about what we do.
We also run our own businesses because we think we can make a living doing it.
That kind of faith has to be based on something, especially if we’re planning to pay rent, put food on the table and even do some extra things like travel, enjoy ourselves and even occasionally forget that we have anything at all to do.
If we can achieve this, it’s a blessing. If we can’t, we may panic, wondering what we’re doing wrong, how we can make it better, how we can achieve our goals.
In my own business, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some truly pioneering ideas, unique ideas, bold ideas.
I also work with ideas that are not entirely new or different.
I also work with people who offer wonderful services that are not totally different, that are not so earth-shatteringly unique that those who visit their sites are in automatic awe of their service.
So what do we do there?
How do we differentiate? How do we – dare I say – make money doing this?
Below are the 3 things that always makes a difference. And I mean ALWAYS – a difference that is felt and seen through solid financial data aka my clients begin to make money doing what they’re doing, or make crazy leaps in their income while leaving a school of happy customers in their wake:
1. Tell Your Story
Those of you who are familiar with my work, know that I love Joseph Campbell, a man who was arguably the most famous mythologist of the modern age. In his best-known book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, we follow the Hero through many twists and turns of his story to get to some logical and often predictable conclusion.
Campbell found, after studying myths from all over, that there is a predictable pattern of most stories; most stories follow a system, and he called that system, that pattern, “The Hero’s Journey.”
I won’t be covering the process here, because it is a bit lengthy, but in short, it is the journey from darkness – or some kind of ignorance – into success (or failure) and therefore, illumination. (Our culture doesn’t allow the idea of failure to be a celebrated event, but I think that all forms of failure can be extremely illuminating and thus not failures at all.)
When I work with folks in The Epic Brand, we constantly talk about the power of their story, their own Hero’s Journey and how it has impacted them, how it has helped them to become who they are. Through various exercises, we discover their unique story, connect to it powerfully and learn to articulate it well.
This is key.
Because if you can communicate your story, if you can connect deeply to why you do what you do and to talk about it in an empowered way – yes, even if that story is littered with apparent “failures – you’ll be able to inspire those you want to impact; you’ll be able to set yourself apart and, ultimately, to make a sale for a product or service you probably slaved over.
In short, your story is the gateway to another’s heart. Your story is actually the only way to make your business successful.
Why? Because someone signing up with you for anything is really them saying “Yes, you have impacted me. I am willing to let you impact me further.”
That comes from connection. Do not be ashamed of your story. It is what sets you apart.
2. Find Something Unique in Your Work
Going deeper, we have to get grounded and ask ourselves: “How is what I do different, even if in some small way?” This is where people are urged to niche, to find a specific group of people who will resonate deeply with your work. A tribe of people who want what you have, and know – on some subconscious, some deep level – that YOU are the one to do it.
This comes from understanding your tribes ACTUAL needs (vs what we think they want or what we WANT them to want) and respecting them by creating products and services that meet those needs.
“Yes,” you might say “But I am yet another copywriter. How can I find something unique in my work?”
To that I will ask you how well you know your tribe. I will ask you to tell me about them. I will ask you to tell me their fears and their desires and their core beliefs.
If you can’t answer those questions, you won’t be able to find something unique about your service.
Strange? Backwards? Maybe.
We are not here to retrain people in the 3 seconds we have to grab their attention.
We can challenge them, yes. We can make them wonder, definitely. But you need to connect to their existing expectations, their existing needs and show them how you, yes you, can take care of them… in a slightly different way, in a way unique to you, in a way that matters to them as much as it matters to you.
This leads me to the 3rd point:
3. Talk to Your Tribe Correctly
Let’s say you know who you really want to work with. Let’s say your Tribe is outlined, defined, clear. How do we talk to them?
What if that tribe is not exactly like you? What if that Tribe is big, wide, has many sides to it?
That’s where the Brand Essences come in.
What are the Brand Essences? They are core, fundamental, archetypical energies that have worked their way from Carl Jung and into brand strategy.
The table outlines 12 essences that fit into 4 categories, and the 12 are:
The table outlines in detail what the energies present are and what brands identify with what. It outlines the core desires of each as well as the core pitfalls of each. These essential energies – and the intelligent combination of them – can work to support your personal story, your unique offers and to help you communicate it all in a powerful, consistent way over time. This way your brand succeeds, lasts, tells a bigger story with a bigger motivation.
Here is a taste of how these essences are used in daily branding you see everywhere:
What type of brand is Victoria Secret? Take a wild guess!
If you thought “Lover”, you’d be right.
Simple, no? “It’s girls in their underwear!” you’d say. Yes and no. It’s not quite so simple. Victoria Secret sells a dream – if you wear these, you will look like this. (Or if you buy these, your girlfriend will look like this). The core motivation of the lover is to attain intimacy and to experience sensual pleasure (in the table). The lover will get this in any way they can.
What is a common way of receiving that gratification? Through flattery, through seduction.
Do you feel seduced when looking at those ads? You should. They are designed to do that.
That’s the power of knowing your brand essence and working it correctly.
Over the course of my 15 years in this business, I have seen brands lose their consistent voice and fail. I have also seen brands connect deeply to the core energies present and work that magic for years, connecting to others and making real impacts around the world.
Try playing with the essence table and see what you come up with for your own brand, what combinations you can gleam that make sense, that inspire you. It may seem simple, but this is a great place to start.
Here’s to your Epic Brand. May success and joy be yours!