Soulful branding through crisis is something that’s been on my mind. Today I’m sharing from my own experience and leaving you with 5 tips to consider, for your own personal or business brand.
I think it’s clear to us all that, from this time of COVID-19 onwards, business cannot continue as usual.
There are all kinds of professional AND personal strains that this time has put on many of us. Financial concerns; worries around our employment and keeping our businesses afloat; added responsibilities with our children at home; and the trauma of losing a way of life that’s all we’ve ever known.
I don’t know about you but, I woke up the other day, exhausted!
A new way of being
I realised, I needed to find a more sustainable way of being, in this moment and beyond.
I had to find new coping mechanisms, in order to show up how I need to, so that I can uphold my responsibilities to my family, to my employees, to my clients and to all the people who are served by what I do.
While at the same time, taking care of myself so that I’m around to fulfil those obligations!
Rest is a crucial part of that and, to make sufficient room for it, I had to start thinking in terms of Minimal Viable Action. For somebody who is always brimming with ideas – whether for new offerings or about how to improve things – this is really difficult!
I had to ask myself, what is truly essential right now?
For my business, the essential things are:
- Cashflow for right now
- Cashflow for a couple of months from now
In that order.
This is how I’ve been approaching my task list, each day – prioritising the actions that are going to contribute to those 2 things. Arguably it’s how we should all approach our task lists every day, whether in times of crisis or not!
But what about our soulful brands?
I realised there’s another important element to be considered, that will actually contribute to my bottom line. Particularly, when I’m considering cashflow for the future.
That element is: keeping my brand soulful.
Showing up in a way that people have come to expect and staying true to the brand promise I’ve established.
… Especially in this time of crisis!
Why is this important?
This is a time of filtering. Of weeding out all the things that are no longer serving us. I feel that people are asking themselves difficult questions and aligning their actions with what is truly in their hearts.
They will be questioning whether your brand is still relevant to them.
Some people may decide that it’s not.
However, it’s also a time of discovery. People are searching for brands that align and that are offering what they need. There is an opportunity for them to find YOU!
So being intentional about keeping your brand soulful during this time, does two things:
- It reminds your existing audience of WHY they devote their time and patronage to you
- It encourages new audiences to explore how you can add value to their lives
5 tips for soulful branding through crisis
So how do we keep our brands soulful when, most of the time, we just want to crawl under the covers, with a brownie, and some Netflix on the screen?! (That’s my dream scenario, right now!)
Well, I’d like to share 5 ideas with you.
1. Self-care first
There’s a thought that has been central to all this Afri-love stuff, since I started it, almost 10 years ago: it starts with self. I believe that everything does.
So keeping your brand soulful through a crisis, starts with taking care of yourself. In the previous episode of Soulful Branding Live with Lulu, I spoke about what the hell self-care has to do with branding. If you missed it, I’ve provided the link in the notes.
To summarise, when our emotional and mental wellbeing is well taken care of, we are more present, we express ourselves better and more authentically, with ALL our light shining. In our lives and consequently in our personal and/or business branding.
You can’t show up well for others, until you’ve taken good care of yourself.
For me lately, that’s involved getting more sleep; getting back to doing some yoga every day, however short; watching an episode of uplifting Queer Eye, a few times a week; and fun with art, with my son and when creating my #plantsomethingweekly pieces.
2. Check in with your purpose
I read a great caption yesterday, from @asiko_artist on Instagram. I’ll read you part of it:
“What are you doing? Do you love it? … At this monumental time in history, we have been given a unique opportunity to look inward and bring out the things we love… Let your love give birth to something uniquely special to you during this time of isolation and remember to do it for you.”
View this post on Instagram
Growing in isolation What are you doing? Do you love it? What are you spending your time doing in this period? Is it what everyone else is doing? If you don’t love it and you are doing it because it’s a trend, my advice is drop it now. At this monumental time in history, we have been given a unique opportunity to look inward and bring out the things we love. It’s a time to do what you love for no other person but you. Now you might say it’s not possible because you are stuck at home and have things to do but I challenge to see beyond the surface, carve out the time, everything can be started now, it can be prepared now, it can planned now and little steps can begin in isolation. So let your love give birth to something uniquely special to you during this time of isolation and remember to do it for you. I’ve been thinking about self portraits and how they unearth the soul and lay bare to who we are. For me self portraits are delving into aspects of the subconscious and unpacking secrets I hide away. They have always been created in isolation. Image: I was grown in burdens. #asiko #photography #portraiture #selfportrait #selfie #africancontemporaryart #mentalhealth #mindful #love #isolation
Just as people may be asking themselves difficult questions about their consumption, it might be a good time to ask yourself difficult questions about your production.
Why are you doing what you’re doing? Is it still relevant for YOU?
We serve others better when we do it with love. Is it worth pursuing a direction with your brand, that you’re not in love with yourself?
I have a couple of past episodes you might find useful in this exercise of checking in with your purpose:
When COVID-19 became a reality for us in Kenya, it accelerated a lot of thoughts that had been going through my mind, regarding my own brand. Somehow, the uncertainty helped certain things to crystallise and I’ve felt so much more purposeful and confident about how to show up for my audience.
I’m currently updating my website and, it’s so exciting because, for the first time, it feels like it’s really going to be a vehicle for me to articulate this clarity I feel.
Once you’ve checked in with your purpose and it sits well within your heart, it’s time to review whether all that you put out there is in alignment with it.
It’s so easy for our activities to feel all over the place. In terms of: spaces where we’re networking; content that we’re publishing; tasks on our list; opportunities we’re pursuing; things we’re saying “yes” to; and more.
In chaotic times, we may be even more prone to getting lost in – or escaping by – being busy. We can easily lose track of what is most important, what is most true to our purpose and what is actually going to get us the results we desire.
It’s critical, now more than ever, to step back and plan. You know I’m a planner so, this stuff is actually exciting to me and it can be for you too! See episode 9 on “Planning for excellence”.
Streamline. Given your purpose, revisit the following things:
- Your ideal client/customer profile – intimately explore what drives them and what they want
- Your offer to them – what is your main promise to them? What are your key products/services?
- The key 3-5 themes for your business – these should sit at the intersection of what your ideal client/customer wants; your promise to them; and what you love yourself.
Once you’ve got this down, ensure all your activities and content are in line with this. On social media, find the hashtags that speak to your themes and engage with people who are talking about them. Use these hashtags yourself. Build your engagement, your reach and your community.
4. Have fun
What is being soulful if it isn’t having fun!
For those of you who have taken my Soulful Branding course in the past, you know that I insist that the branding process should be fun! You’re presenting to the world what’s in your heart and that should be satisfying and delightful.
If it isn’t, there are a few things that could be the problem:
- Perhaps you’re holding back from letting your true self shine in your brand
- Perhaps you’re stuck in some kind of expectation, about how you think you should doing things
- Perhaps you haven’t really done the work of getting clear about what you want to be known for and finding your voice.
Let me know if any of these blocks resonate with you and I can help you out.
Otherwise, go forth into the world and have fun with how you put yourself out there. Your audience will sense and be captured by the feeling themselves.
Last but not least, find a community that keeps you inspired, nourished and nurtured.
You are not alone in what you’re feeling and experiencing. And you don’t have to be alone in navigating through it.
Find yourself a safe space to speak your truths and figure everything out. Where people will support you, sometimes challenge you, and always celebrate you.
What are you doing to keep your brand soulful through this crisis?
I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share your experiences and any questions, in the comments below.
If you’ve found this episode useful, please share it with others you think would benefit from it.
Stay tuned for episode 12 next month. Until then, go on with your bad, soulful self! 😉