The most common branding problem I see in solo-preneurs is having a brand that feels “off”.
When you’re a solo-preneur, You are your brand. Your life is your brand. Everything you do, say, write, eat, drink and wear is a reflection of your brand.
In that sense, it seems like it should be easy to create a brand that’s a perfect fit. Just be yourself!
In reality, creating a brand that’s an accurate reflection of who you are and what you are doing through your business is really tough. Part of it has to do with fear—being afraid of showing who you really are in your brand, or being afraid that clients and customers may not hire or buy from you if they knew the real you. So, instead of just being yourself, you copy what seems to be working for other people. You try to mold yourself to what you think people are looking for.
If you’re naturally shy or introverted, you may push yourself to be outgoing and social. If you’re emotionally sensitive, you may force yourself to be more logical. If you want to work with clients individually or short-term, you may convince yourself to offer long-term group programs because everyone tells you that’s where the money is.
When you give up your Self for an inauthentic brand, you end up feeling lost. You hesitate to answer the dreaded “what do you do” question. You make excuses about the state of your website. You stop taking the initiative to close the sale. And the sales you do close feel hollow.
The irony is that your brand may actually look fabulous and, on the surface, draw people in. Your business may be “successful,” and yet You still feel like you are floundering.
This was me just a few years into my coaching business. I had a brand and a website that people loved. I was getting clients—even random people finding me online.
But something still felt off. I hated answering, “So, what do you do?” As beautiful as my website was, I still told people, “It’s in transition.” And every time I got a new client, part of me worried that they didn’t really know who they were hiring.
So, what changed?
I was meditating one day and suddenly heard these words: “You are not a fuzzy bunny!”
I actually started laughing out loud. See, I work with spirit animals (animal totems or animal archetypes), both for myself and my clients. And I realized that I was trying to be a fuzzy bunny instead of a panther and a hawk, my real spirit animals.
People love fuzzy bunnies. They love to be near them and to touch them. They ooh and aah over fuzzy bunnies. And that’s what I thought I had to be in order to have a successful business.
But being a fuzzy bunny is exhausting to me. I am naturally introverted and highly sensitive—characteristics that can make marketing and networking difficult but that are deeply useful in coaching clients.
In that moment while meditating, I understood that in trying to be a fuzzy bunny, I had fallen out of alignment with who I really am. Feeling disconnected from my brand made sense; I was trying to connect to something that wasn’t me.
And the solution became immediately clear: Reconnect with my actual spirit animals and use them in my brand.
How did I do that?
- I owned the gifts and messages of my spirit animals
- I used my spirit animals’ messages as part of my marketing message
- I made sure my brand essence had the same feeling as the essences of my spirit animals
I didn’t change my business name or create a logo out of a panther or a hawk, though some of my students have. One of my students ended up using a swan in her logo. Another one used the word fox in her business name.
And take a look at eVision Media’s penguin logo right here!
Whether you use your spirit animal in your name or logo or not, the important thing is to accept the archetypal messages of your spirit animal and make those more prominent in your brand.
The first thing I changed was my branding message.
I accepted Panther’s archetypal message of personal power and Hawk’s message of perspective and translated them into a message of support and guidance for my ideal client.
I also looked at who my ideal client really is, in light of who I really am.
Some people will naturally be intimidated by Panther energy. Rather than abandon that part of me, I accepted that my ideal client will be someone who has the courage to work with that Panther energy.
One of the most practical things I changed in my branding was how I was getting my message out into the world.
I stopped going to every possible networking event. (Panther and Hawk would never go to every event.) I stopped saying “yes” to every JV or telesummit offer. I became much more discerning about what events to attend and which partnerships to join.
I also left the flock I had been trying so hard to follow. I had to own my solitary nature. That meant getting mentoring one-on-one and creating a tribe that wasn’t needy or clingy.
So, how can you find your branding spirit animal?
You can look for signs and symbols of your spirit animal in your daily life as well as in your dream life. Ask your spirit animal to make itself known to you. Then, watch for signs over the next few days. You may see the physical animal a few times—in person, on TV, in a movie, in magazines, online. You may see or hear the name of the spirit animal—in reference to the animal, in a business name, in a person’s name, in a book, on TV. Be open and be aware.
The absolute best way to find your spirit animal is to meditate on it. Get into a meditative state and ask your spirit animal to appear in your meditation. It’s easier if you envision yourself walking through a cave and coming out into a clearing—your spirit animal meeting place.
After you have identified your spirit animal, how can you incorporate it into your branding?
To understand your spirit animal’s messages, write down everything your animal means to you, everything you already know about the animal. Then look up the physical animal on Wikipedia or National Geographic. The physical qualities and behaviors of the animal will be very important for you. After getting to know the physical animal, then you can finally Google “spirit animal _____.”
To put your spirit animal’s essence into your brand essence, you don’t have to wear leopard print or give yourself a lion’s mane! You don’t even have to use the colors of your animal. I love fuschia and black—not typical Panther or Hawk colors! The Panther and Hawk essences of clarity, soaring and sleekness still come across.
The changes you make to your brand by incorporating your spirit animal can be big or small. You may scrap your current brand and start from scratch. Or you may tweak it in simpler ways. The end result will be a brand that is in total alignment with who you really are, a brand that you’re proud to share, and a brand that authentically and powerfully communicates your message and attracts exactly the right clients.
How does your brand reflect who you are? Have you connected with your spirit animal? Please share your thoughts below.
About the Author, Kelly Eckert
Kelly Eckert is an author, professional speaker, and shamanic leadership coach. She is a graduate of Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in biological anthropology and Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with a master's degree in biology.
Kelly is a certified MentorCoach® and a certified coach member of the International Coach Federation. She is the creator of the Fear Releasing Method™ and Coaching with Animal Archetypes™. Kelly speaks nationally and internationally on the topics of fear and unleashing the animal within. Her latest book, What's Your Spirit Animal?, is now available. Find out more at kellyeckert.com.