Ep. 83 A coherent brand

coherent branding

In today’s episode, Anna looks at how you can bring together different projects in a way that makes sense in your elevator pitch or website with a coherent brand.

How do you bring together all those different ideas? How do you introduce yourself, when someone inevitably asks, “And what do you do?” And what do you do with your website?

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

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A coherent brand

Transcript:

Hi there. Welcome back to the Reimagining Success podcast. Now we’ve been talking the last couple of weeks about your career identity, your personal brand in a way. And in particular, last week, we looked at connecting the dots, finding your ‘ikigai’ and finding patterns among your different interests and values, your missions that you believe in, the things you’re good at, and so on.

Actually the other week in the One Step Outside Facebook Group, we were talking about we had a workshop session, in fact, around building a coherent brand around lots of different ideas. This is something that I’m really interested and passionate about actually. It’s something that I personally am very compelled to look up because I’ve always been one of those people with lots of different ideas both before I started the business. I’ve always been interested in all the sports, all the musical instruments, and I’ve never been one for niching down. I’ve always loved to do a little bit of everything. What’s exciting is that that is a growing area and I think people are recognising, once again, the beauty of having all those different interests.

Now I’ve talked a lot about having a portfolio career, and which could be potentially as I started with my marketing consulting on the one hand, with my career and business coaching on the other. You may have heard of Emilie Wapnick who talks about being a multipotentialite. She has done an amazing TEDx talk some years ago around why we don’t all have a true calling, so do check her out: Emilie Wapnick on TEDx. You may also have come across Emma Gannon. I’m rereading her book now around having a multi-career, so we talk about slashies as well, I think Emilie Wapnick calls them as well: when you wear different hats. It could be a day job and a side hustle. It could even be a hobby or a passion that you have alongside. It could be several different businesses you’re running. It could be, yeah, all sorts of different constellations. I think that’s very interesting.

My favourite way of talking about it is Renaissance men and women having a Renaissance business that really brings together those different interests and skills.

That’s a little bit what we were talking about with the ikigai the other week as well. You might have heard of scanners and polymaths, and again, multipotentialite, multi-passionate, portfolio career, and so on. So you can use whatever label or you can disregard all the labels because we tend not to be fans of labels when we have so many interests. But I think that is the beauty of having a business working for yourself. You can design it around all those… or at least many of the different interests. Whereas, a job description probably doesn’t exist out there that’s going to tick all those boxes for you.

Now, let’s first look at the elephant in the room because in business, and I’m sure if you’ve been trying to build your business for a while, or in business for a while, and you will have had lots of coaches and expert gurus probably including me focusing on the importance of niching. That’s really having a niche, or niche as the Americans say, will help you stand out. It’s going to really help you be a go-to authority. I actually wish in a way I’d been more specific. I saw someone who was a pricing coach or what else…? If you can be a web designer for lawyers or accountants, if you can really offer a specific service to a specific audience that can be really powerful, again, to become the go-to person and, of course, to really target your marketing.

However, that may not work for those of us who potentially get bored or can’t focus on that one thing.

In fact, there are lots of… or there’s a lot to be said for having an end-to-end solution. My feeling is that the process of going from, “I want to leave my job. I want to work for myself. I want more freedom and flexibility. I want to change something in the next phase of my career and my life.” The process of going from that stage to actually having a working business model that’s that’s replaced my income, that’s allowing me all those things that I wanted to have initially and I’m not hustling away and burning out and so on, that is a pretty long process.

I feel like I want to offer pretty much an end-to-end solution for that. I don’t want to be that person who helps you work out what you want to do for your next step and then throws you out to the world to get on with that yourself. I also don’t want to just be the person who helps you with the marketing and branding because, “Hey,” and there are so many other aspects in terms of, as I call it, work-life integration and so on.

As I found in the last few years, the fact that you’ve quit your job and set up a business doesn’t mean that you then have replaced your income. It’s actually the next decision, the next point, the next few years, even that are the hardest. And so, for me, having quite that broad spectrum and also combining my business and marketing background, on the one hand, the branding knowledge and say one with the broader life coaching mindset work, re-imagining success and so on, that to me is a really powerful combination. We need both sides of that in order to make this a lasting change, make it a sustainable business model, business lifestyle, and career.

And so, it may well be that both your personality and the particular solution that you’re offering lends itself to having quite a few strings to your bow. I’ve got a client who does a lot of grief work, but also does coaching with women. I’ve had someone else who was talking about doing, oh, digital marketing on the one hand and videography on the other. It might be a creative pursuit, hand, something a bit more academic or corporate. It might be several different creative pursuits, and so on. I think it can be your very diversity that makes you interesting. It’s that ikigai, your own connection of the dots over the years, is what makes you interesting.

One of the coaches I worked with previously had been a cheerleader initially and that sounded strange, but as she said it, it made her quite unique. It meant that she had had that really athletic discipline. She brought that focus and hard work to her business. She also had the FMCG Fortune 500 background, and so on, and that makes her a really unique candidate. I like to think that both my corporate and then my entrepreneurial experience gives me those two sides of the coin. Whenever I present a training webinar, I always say, “Look, I’ve got the big budget, big brand, big strategy, incredible agency side of things, but I also have that lean hustling away and smaller budgets, smaller strategies, teams, and so on. So I think that gives me a unique combination as well.”

So it may well be that your unique journey of working in finance and being a yoga instructor, or whatever it is, is exactly what gives you your edge. And it may happen very organically and evolve. For me, I think it did. I’ve told the story many times: 2013, I quit my job. Initially I fell into digital marketing consulting, so I was very much doing what I’d already been doing in my corporate job. And then, I gradually discovered coaching. I started my blog originally around travel. I started talking more broadly around personal development and career choices. That then merged into an interest for coaching. I qualified as a coach.

And then, now, I’ve found a really lovely way of combining those two sides, but that wasn’t an intentional choice. It wasn’t when I quit my job that I said, “Right, I’m going to have a portfolio career. I’m going to really weave together my branding and marketing with coaching and career and so on.” Right? So that happened for me very organically. If you’re lucky, you may already know what you want to bring together and that makes it easier for you to build something really intentionally.

I want to talk about a few things, the things that we talked about in the workshop as well. So first of all, how do you bring together those different ideas?

Then, how do you introduce yourself? Which is always tricky, “What do you do?” And then also, concretely, you can have a think about what you do with your website as well, which is always a specific question I get. But the main question is, how do you bring together your different ideas? I know Emilie Wapnick has talked about you can be, I believe she says a Phoenix that you have one career, then another, then another. That might work for you. You could be you a serial careerist. If you’re happy to work with one thing at a time, you can of course have a day job and then a side hustle. Some people don’t mind having that day job that’s good enough and then you can pursue your passions in your spare time and so on.

But a few different ideas there from me. So, the first is that you can try to find an umbrella theme, a common thread, that unifies all your ideas. So, I have a client who has a lot of different interests, but it’s all around communication. I say interests, but it’s also skills, and communication is quite broad, but maybe that’s the umbrella heading. And then underneath, you might have lots of things: photography and copywriting, and whatever else it is.

I have another client who is looking at or is starting to become a coach. We found the red thread of reinvention through her own career in life and then also through the different life stages/transitions of her potential clients as well. Reinvention is a really powerful theme that may well span relationships, careers, different personal areas, and so on. Maybe it’s around goal setting and that could be in different areas, but you become the expert around setting goals. That could be, again, in health and nutrition, in careers, in relationships, and so on. Maybe for you it’s all around risk-taking. But finding that umbrella theme, that common red thread that unifies your ideas, that’s really helpful and will be helpful also when you do a website and so on.

Or it might be that your two ideas, three ideas, whatever are so different that you simply can’t bring them together, so then you might have a portfolio career of different jobs, those slashes. So I’m this and that. “I’m a charity consultant and an adventure photographer. I’m a finance coach slash/teacher. I’m a digital marketer/filmmaker.” That’s rather than trying to find one thing, force the finance and yoga together, you just have the two.

Again, one option is having a day job that’s good enough and then pursuing your passions in your spare time.

So maybe your job is just the corporate day job and that’s okay. I find, for some reason, men are happier doing this than women; I’m not sure why. Me, personally, I would prefer to have fulfilling work and build a business around my interests and so on, but I think that’s absolutely a valid way of doing it. You have one job that’s perhaps the less creative side, and so on, and then you do the more creative things around that as a side hustle.

I do want to raise this as well. Sometimes your different ideas are not different businesses, they’re just different ways of delivering a business. I had a client who did this ikigai: finding the pattern exercise and she felt she was all over the place. But when we looked at it together, we saw a very clear mission, a very clear focus of the problem she wanted to solve, the clients who wanted to work with. And then, she was passionate about coaching, training, writing, speaking, but those aren’t different ideas. They’re different ways in which you can market and deliver your service. So, lots of us want to do a TED Talk, we want to publish a book, and we want to speak and write, and so. We can absolutely do those things regardless of what the actual job title is.

So I might be a professional speaker as my main career, my main business. As a side thing of that, I will probably be writing blog posts, I’ll probably be publishing a book, I’ll be doing perhaps training and so on. Or, in my case, coaching is the core of my work, but in order to build my coaching business… and I love writing as well… I’m writing blogs, I’m writing books, I’ll be doing speaking, I’ll be doing training, and so on. So, they’re both ways in which you can market your business and ways in which you might actually deliver your service. I might train corporate organisations. I might coach individuals.

Bringing together your different ideas. Now, of course, that leads nicely into how on earth do you introduce yourself?

It depends on which of those models you’ve chosen. The good thing is that when you’re talking to someone in person or maybe emailing messaging someone, you have the option to tailor your pitch to who you’re speaking to. I always say that’s really important. We get obsessed with getting that elevator pitch correct. But really, depending on the context you’re in, who you’re speaking to, you can introduce yourself in the way that works best.

For example, for me, in certainly the beginning, if I was talking to people in corporate jobs, in a corporate conference setting, I’d be fired focusing on my marketing consulting. I’d say, “Oh yeah, I’m ex P & G,” or, “I’m a marketing consultant, digital marketing,” whatever. If I was in more of an adventure context, people who are more open to personal development, I’d I’d probably talk more about the coach. When I went to creative writing workshops, I’d be almost presenting myself as a writer, as an author, which is quite exciting. Maybe… and this is probably the case for most of us… we don’t want to get into a long debate about all those different facets of what we do. Some people, maybe most people who ask us, don’t actually care. They’re not actually interested. And so, you can just give them one of the titles. You can just give them a brief little summary and probably they won’t care. They won’t ask any more, so I can just say, “Yeah, I’m a coach,” or, “I’m a digital marketing consultant,” and leave it at that.

Now you may have joined me in one of my workshops where I suggested that you use a formula and I do think this is helpful, so if you find it useful you can try the, “I help X do Y, so that Z.” So, “I help experienced corporate professionals transition out of their nine to five jobs that they can create more freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment,” for example. So, “I help this kind of person achieve that result so that they can ultimately do blah, blah, blah.” That’s a good formula as well. But again, that assumes that somebody cares about your answer.

Then, you can also say a bit non-committedly, “I have a few different projects I’m working on at the moment.” And then if they do ask, you can elaborate. The only thing with that one is that that is probably going to lead to lots of questions because they’ll think you’re a bit wishy-washy maybe if you just say, “Yeah, I’ve got a few different things I’m doing,” and they might dig deeper, so you have to be ready to get into more detail. And again, of course, if you have a day job and a side hustle, you can choose just to say, “Yeah, I work in marketing,” or you can say, “Well, actually I’m in marketing, but I’m also working on building my yoga training or launching a lingerie business,” whatever that might be now.

The important thing is not to overthink it. Again, in these different contexts, most people are just asking to be polite. Obviously, anyone you speak to is a potential client or contact, and it’s important to be able to confidently tell them what you do. But you know what? As someone once said to me, “If someone’s drowning, they don’t care if you’re a lifeguard or a doctor or a nurse or whatever, they just want you to save them.” So I think we obsess about the job title. “Am I coach? Am I a mentor? Am I a business coach? Am I a life coach? A career coach? What do I do: consultant?” And actually, ultimately, they just want to get clarity on what their career choice is or they just want to bring in more clients in their business. And so they probably don’t care what your job title happens to be on your business card.

And then finally, coming to an end now, but wanting to touch on the website piece.

I don’t think there’s a right answer here. The initial question people ask is, “Should I have one website or should I have different websites?” I would always try, if possible, to unify ideas into a site for your own sake. Because otherwise, you’re going to have a lot of websites to maintain, so that you also feel like a whole person, that you’re not feeling torn between different sites. Now, if again, your businesses are completely different, the audience is completely different, one audience would be shocked and horrified if they knew about the other thing. Hopefully not, but you know what I mean? That if you have completely separate businesses with different audiences, no overlap, then probably you need to have different websites for those different niches.

What I would say though, is that you could then consider having a personal brand site, which would be under your name and that would then integrate everything. So I have annalunderberg.com where I talk about, “This is me and I do coaching. I do writing. I do speaking.” Initially, when I had that, I talked about my different business ideas I was working on at the time and they were then portals into those other websites. So that’s something you can do, right? You have a lot of different elements to play with on the website itself as well. Of course, you have the domain, which could be your name or it could be the business name or it could be that umbrella idea, if you can. You have the title, you have a tagline potentially you have the design, all the images and copy, and so on. So there’s a lot of elements you can play with to bring together your different ideas.

And again, you can try to put it all under the umbrella theme if possible. You can have portals into different parts of the website. If you have different audiences, you can say, “Hey, if you’re a company/corporation, you click here. If you’re an individual, you click there. If you’re interested in grief coaching, you go here. If you’re interested in career coaching, you go there.” And again, having a personal brand website could be an option to have that one authentic whole self and then potentially have different websites for your businesses. You don’t want to be trying to force-fit things. But again, for you, for your sanity, to feel like a whole authentic genuine person who’s showing up and being open and transparent about the different interests, I think it’s in your interest to have a unified presence. Again, it depends on the context, especially if you’re talking to people. Like I said, you don’t have to go into all those different strings to your bow. It’s up to you how much you share. But certainly online, you have the option to really weave together a really compelling story, so I’d encourage you to try to do so.

One of my favourite examples from years ago is one of the first guys I started following, back when I was looking at leaving my job. And so it was Chris Guillebeau and his website still is Unconventional Strategies, so that’s the umbrella theme for life, work and travel. That’s pretty broad and he’s written lots of books and it’s not unlike the work I do in terms of setting up a business and assign hustles and that kind of thing. Funnily enough, initially I was inspired to use those same three categories on my website. I had lifestyle, I had work. I think I had work/career and then I had travel, but I moved away from that. It wasn’t the right fit for me. So by all means, be inspired by others, but then find the way that’s going to work for you.

Another great example is Marketing For Hippies: marketingforhippies.com. You can check that out. It’s a guy, Tad, who used to be an activist… well, is still an activist and combines that with marketing. That’s a really nice way to bring those two things together. Marketing For Hippies is an excellent name as well. But have a look at some other people you admire who bring together their adventures and speakers and writers and teachers, and whatever it is they are, and see how you could bring that together for yourself.

I do think… and this is the final point I’ll make… but I do think if you’re struggling to make sense out of all your ideas, let’s say, on a website when you’re talking to someone, that probably means you’re not clear on exactly what your ideas are, how you are going to weave them together. Remember, from a business perspective, you have totally different audiences, totally different marketing strategies. One thing is over here with corporates on LinkedIn, the other thing is individuals over on Instagram and Facebook. That’s going to double up your work. By all means in the longer term, you may be happy to juggle several businesses. But certainly, if you’re starting out and you need to have a priority.

Next week we’re talking about reviewing our goals and seeing how we’ve done 2020— half of the year gone already now— and then you will find that you need to make choices, you need to focus. Otherwise, you’re making your life very difficult. So if you are struggling to weave things together, then probably that means that you need to do a bit more work on getting clarity on your why, on understanding what that umbrella theme is that is really driving you, and then identifying a focus. Even I always say, “Just focus for the next three months.” No need to decide on something that you have to commit to the next 20 years of your career. But at least to give yourself a better chance of getting things done by choosing one focus, “Next three months, this is what I’m going to focus on.”

But I hope that was an interesting brief foray into the world of building a coherent brand around different ideas. Again, if you do want to check out the workshop it’s over in the one step outside Facebook group, where you can find it on my YouTube channel as well. But I think if this is something you want to explore more, I think more and more of us want to bring together all our unique interests and passions and experiences and missions, and I think there are more and more opportunities to do so. Certainly, working for yourself, running your own business/businesses is the best opportunity to do so.

Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next week for the annual review or the… What’s the word for the half year review? Not quarterly, but the second half review, I suppose. I’ll see you then. Bye for now.

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If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

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