Authentic Brand Strategy (in Love with Potential)
I have recently fallen madly in love with my three year old. That is not to say that I didn’t love him before or that I don’t love his 6 year old brother just as much. I fell in love with his brother when he was about two and a half but that is another story. This swell of emotion, catch of breath, desire to be with him all of the time, to watch him, to engage with him, this passion I recognize as my pattern of falling in love with potential. Right now at this moment in history, my son is in the process of becoming. Out of babyhood into boyhood, his himself-ness is becoming apparent. I can start to imagine how that might flourish as he grows and how he might manage that to his own best advantage. That solid rock of who he is excites me. I am driven to help him protect that differentiator, build it, and grow into it.
Django (or DJ as we call him) loves to draw. Not like other children, but with an intensity and focus that is fascinating. I taught art history as a University faculty and his drawings remind me of Paul Klee or Jean Michel Basquiat. There is an intensity to the finished product, the way the images actually hold imagination on the paper. The drawing I’ve posted with this blog is his. It was presented to me as a gift of story and image, carefully folded and wrapped in another drawing and taped closed with 4 pieces of black tape. We opened it together and he began pointing to different scribbles and telling me the story. The main shape on the page, a large square-ish green line is the fish tank. Inside that tank there is a rock, a crab, and a hermit crab. Just to the left there is an orange crab that has escaped. I love the brightness of the color he chose against all the green for the escaping crab. Each scribble has a story and all of it drawn with an amazing fierceness and explained to me with intensity as if it was a slay-the-dragon kind of legend. This ability to imagine and the drive to capture that imagination in physical form, this will be one of Django’s strengths. I love that. I love him for that. I love him.
I have had three careers in my life professor, architect, and business strategist. On the surface they seem quite different, but there is a pattern. It is always about potential. The professor finding those students that had been overlooked and helping them become amazing. The architect finding the gem in a remodel or project brief and designing so that the end result is more than anyone thought it could be. The business strategist, finding the brand differentiator, turning that into marketing strategy, and then implementing a roll out so that internal and external alignment gave it real power. Brand strategy and alignment … or really, falling in love with potential.
Brand strategy sounds too commercial for a discussion of my sons three year old talents, but for me, brand strategy is about finding and celebrating difference in a completely authentic way. It happens at the level of the individual person, at the level of a group or community, and at the level of a business. We are better together when we know what makes us different, we figure out how use that to our best advantage, and then go out in the world and sing our own song. The only way to build a truly authentic brand identity is in the potential that is created through difference.
I labeled the bits of Django’s drawing as he explained them to me. I will share the drawing and this story with him when he gets older. I want him to remember this freshness. I want him to keep this intensity and talent for capturing imagination as he goes through the process of growing up. I want him to celebrate his differentiator, to have clarity around his personal brand, and to delight in what makes him uniquely him. I love this potential and want all of this for all of us.