Recently I hosted two live webinars where I talked with hundreds of business owners about the 7 common mistakes I see in branding, and a “Flub-Proof” formula for building a great brand. (You can watch a replay here.)
In the chat box during the webinars, I saw these comments (or iterations of these comment) again and again:
“I don’t have the confidence I need to ask for the business. “
“I need to be more courageous in promoting my brand.”
“I’m afraid to put myself out there.”
Confidence. It’s a loaded word, isn’t it?
I’ve had a long-term relationship with the concept of self-esteem. I didn’t always have the best opinion of myself. As a young woman, I really struggled with my self-worth and my value. And in my late 20’s and early 30’s, I went on a very long, very intense journey to find the self-esteem that, for whatever reason, I hadn’t developed as a young person.
I was always an achiever. I was always a hard worker. But in the back of my mind, I always felt a little like a fraud. I always felt kind of “second-tier” – never part of the “it crowd.” I always felt that I needed to make just one more improvement or correct one more thing about myself, and then I would feel fully accepted and fully proud. I always wondered whether I was truly worthy, you know?
People would say to me, “You’ve really got everything it takes. You just need better self-esteem.”
And I would think to myself: Yeah… that’s awesome. But where do I get it? Does it grow on a self-esteem tree somewhere?
But over time, I learned about the core requirements for self-esteem. And I really practiced. And I changed the way I felt about myself. Not by improving. But by understanding WHY I’m worthy.
And now that I’m working with small business owners, I realize that those core concepts of personal self-esteem apply, in a huge way, to what I call “brand-esteem.”
Do you have enough esteem for your brand that it brings you courage and confidence in your everyday business?
AGENCY AND EFFICACY
The two most powerful concepts in self-esteem are agency and efficacy.
Agency means that we have the capacity to ACT in any given moment. With agency we understand that the responsibility is OURS. That life does not happen to us, but rather, that we control life. That we have the CAPACITY to make things happen.
Efficacy is even more powerful. It means that we have the potential to produce a DESIRED RESULT. So with efficacy, we’re not only in control of the process, but we can seriously influence the outcome of the process.
Our self-esteem grows and flourishes as we realize that we have the potential and competency to make things happen for ourselves.
If we lack agency and efficacy, we feel powerless – and sometimes even worthless or hopeless. We feel that we’re controlled by outside forces. Like we are plastic bags in the wind.
And here’s what I’ve learned while helping business owners build their brands: the same concepts (agency and efficacy) apply to our beliefs about our businesses. If we have agency – meaning we have the capacity to truly ACT, then we feel more confident. And if we have efficacy (meaning that when we act, we believe we can influence a desired outcome), then we take that confidence to an entirely new level.
Agency and efficacy create “brand-esteem.”
So, what do I mean by brand-esteem?
With brand-esteem, we fully and completely understand how our business touches our clients or customers, and how it influences outcomes in their lives. We feel confident in telling people what we bring to the table, because we believe it has power.
Furthermore, we fully believe that WE are in control of our businesses. That our specific ACTIONS will influence our success. We are in charge of our futures.
When we LACK brand-esteem (when we lack agency and efficacy in our business lives), we feel the following ways:
My business is at the whim of outside forces – I can’t control what happens.
My customers ultimately make the decision. If they like me, they’ll hire me. If not, they’ll reject me.
The competition controls my success. If they’re better than me, they’ll get the business.
There are so many people offering what I offer. I don’t know how to stand out. I don’t know how to say why I’m special or worthy.
When I put up my website or opened my doors, people should have shown up. The business should flow TO me. That hasn’t happened, and I feel helpless.
I feel like a fraud. I think I have something to bring to the world, but what if people think I’m an amateur? Or a liar? Or a fake?
I don’t know how to tell people about my business. I can’t figure out my message. I have nothing influential to say.
I can’t tell you how common these feelings are in business. I literally meet people EVERY DAY who have these feelings. And to be honest, these are all feelings that I’ve wrestled with, too, at one time or another.
But with brand-esteem, you can turn these feelings upside down. When you have brand-esteem, you feel like this:
This is my business, and I’m in control. I have the capacity to make things happen. I am LARGE AND IN CHARGE.
My customers will ultimately decide, but I can help them decide by showing them how I will truly change their lives. I feel confident in telling them why they should buy from me.
Sure, there’s competition out there. But my actions aren’t determined by the actions of other businesses. My actions are determined by MY goals, MY potential and MY “secret sauce.”
Lots of people may offer what I offer, but no one offers it like me. My business is special because of MY juju (my superpower, my secret sauce, my differentiator.)
I’ve got my website up and my doors open, and now it’s time for me to do the specific things that will make people see me. I know what activities to complete each day to grow my business and my reputation.
I’m confident that I’m qualified to do this. If people look behind my brand, or behind my promise, they’ll find that I can back up each and every word I say.
Brand-esteem is about KNOWING yourself and your business. And it’s about feeling POWERFUL. About truly understanding how you can affect your own business growth and the lives of your clients/customers.
So, how do you get brand-esteem. (And no… there’s not a tree, ripe for picking.)
You get brand-esteem by going through the process of planning strategically.
You get brand-esteem by developing CLARITY around WHAT you do, and WHY.
You get brand-esteem by walking, step-by-step through the process of HOW you’ll bring your product to the world in a way that’s different from anyone else.
You develop brand esteem when, in a step-by-step, deliberate process, you ask yourself questions like these:
What will tell I people, specifically, about my business or my services?
Who will I tell? What kind of people will respond to this message?
Why would they believe it?
Why would they choose me?
Where do I stand in comparison to the competition?
What turns my clients on? And how do I present my business in a way that it lights them up?
What will my clients’ lives LOOK LIKE after they’ve used my product/services?
How can I make sure that I back up everything I say? How can I “dot the I’s and cross the T’s” so I look like a true professional?
How can I tell my brand story so that people want to read it, and it moves them to act?
What icons or visual tools can I use to express this quickly and with gusto? How can I create a picture that paints a thousand powerful words?
Branding is an ongoing exercise in strategy. It never ends. I know that there are tons of business owners who feel that branding is an exercise in design. Or in writing. But it’s not. It’s much, much more than design or copy-writing.
Branding is about understanding your position – in the market and with your customers.
Branding is about absolutely nailing your philosophy – so you can tell people HOW you bring business to the word differently.
Branding is about getting your story straight – every single time.
Branding is about infusing your personality – or the personality of your business or product –into EVERYTHING you say and do.
Branding is about creating EXTRAORDINARY moments for your clients – moments that fully demonstrate who you are, what you do, and why you’re the frickin’ bee’s knees.
A brand isn’t something you buy.
A brand isn’t something you MAKE.
A brand is something you BECOME.
I work to share as much free content as I can here on the Strategic Juju blog. But if you want to take a deeper dive, if you want to go further, if you want to develop your brand-esteem, then join me at Unforgettable U. It’s my signature program for business owners. And it WORKS.
In Unforgettable U, you’ll learn, step-by-step how to build your brand-esteem. You’ll go through the branding process in a way that’s so strategic and so empowering, you’ll be excited about what you bring to the world. You’ll even be excited about telling people.
Imagine that. Just for a moment:
What if you couldn’t WAIT to tell people about your business because you felt so SURE you could change their lives?
Share with me, in the comments below, one way your business changes lives. Start today. How do YOU influence outcomes? How’s your brand-esteem?