Do you want to know where your brand got messed up?
That day, when you had the very first meeting. And they were looking at you and you declined to assert your power: nakedly, openly, without any artifice or pretense.
You pretended that it was all about collaboration, but really you had something in mind, but you thought it could wait until a later date.
You didn't have to tell them about logos and color palettes and all of that. We aren't down in the weeds right now, a brand is about the infrastructure. What's underneath the iceberg is what counts, not what expands and explodes through the surface.
You fell absolutely short at the time when your brand needed you the most. Because you were scared that nobody would like you or that you would get in trouble somehow for taking too strong a stand.
You know this: A brand has an energy from Day 1, from Moment 1. It is indeed a soul - the fetal expression of an artificial organism that has actual life.
By failing to seize the bull by the horns, you left that brand out to die.
Maybe you were not the right person for the job. Here are the usual incompetences:
- You don't understand the audience, worse you refuse to listen. You make the brand all about yourself instead of the people it is supposed to serve.
- You don't understand the connection between the operational aspects of the business - which is to say, another dimension of the brand - and the outreach that needs to happen for it to succeed.
- You don't understand "the people part" - not at all - or worse, you think that people are irrelevant.
Or you weren't incompetent, not at all - instead you knew very well the limits of your power. And you were utterly set up to fail - with a title and all the trappings of authority, but paddling helplessly for life against the tide.
But you took that job. And either way - it doesn't matter.
What you do on Day 1 is the entirety of your brand story.
You go in strong, hold yourself steady, and see the vision through to its full culmination.
Or, in an alternative scenario, you are savvy enough to grasp right away that you are not the best person to lead the brand forward. And you look for someone else who can do it.
In a world where we talk about leadership so much, we ought to talk about missed beginnings more.
With a strong start there is always a chance. With a weak one there's no finish.
You can taste an entire restaurant in the appetizer.
All opinions my own. Photo by Fred Mancosu via Flickr (Creative Commons).