Trailblazing Your Brand Groove
Imagine a chance to start fresh. Imagine getting to choose where you want to go and how you want to get there. Imagine this as a path of your own; a unique creation. We generate a path like that for ourselves and for our business through an understanding of our identity and the cultivation of our brand.
We focus on examining who we are, what we do and why. We register and define our internal identity and what we will make public (transparent). We mine that identity for what’s pertinent which then helps us make smart choices about developing the path that will establish our brand and find the most effective ways to spread the word –to communicate what we are about. A strategy. Something to stick to. A groove.
We carve out the groove we traverse. It will become OUR groove – the one that defines us.
Short Detour Into a Word: Groove
I’m really liking this word and the fact of its two meanings:
1. a long, narrow cut or low area in a surface
2. a state in which you are able to do something well and easily especially because you are doing it often
We make that “long, narrow cut” over time into which and by which we hone in on the identity we will be known by, the association our customers will have in regard to us; our brand.
We persist with consistency by “doing it often”, making and leaving a trail of all our actions, behaviors, tone, style, beliefs, philosophy, until we have carved our space. It’s recognizable. It’s who you are. It’s who I am.
How we are perceived and known as an individual, as a professional and as an expert in our field will surface one way or another as our personal brand. And in fact… Applying ‘groove-formation to our personal brand evolution is a perfect place to start. Especially in these times when our activities on social media and building relationships occupies a critical position in all marketing, thus creating countless instances and opportunities for making that groove deeper. We can start with ourselves and move outward from there (and even take it with us wherever we go) whether we are pursuing solopreneurship or representing a business made up of more than one individual.
Living in “wildfire country”, we have become accustomed to the dangers of fire. It simply happens and we have to deal with the consequences that are sometimes, obviously, devastating. In the two major fires I’ve lived through here in Santa Barbara, California, there was a lot to fear but also a lot to learn. Six years ago, we had two fires within six months…and had to evacuate our home during both of them.
Afterward, for some time, our backcountry trails were closed due to the fires. They were dangerous and crews needed to clean things up. But as soon as it felt vaguely safe to my husband, Doug Anderson, and I, we were out there exploring the dramatically altered landscape. It was fascinating.
Eventually, we returned to running the hills just as we had before the fire but things were changed. For Doug, there was a trail that he especially loved, now devastated, but there was an unexpected advantage. Because the impenetrable chaparral was burned, the bushes and poison oak simply gone, he found that he could run anywhere he pleased. Sight a destination and Go! There was no longer an imperative to stick to a trail and in fact, in many places, the trail was no longer discernible anyway.
And so he ran wherever he pleased. And so he ran. Day after day for hundreds of days, he ran. He found himself gravitating towards and sticking to a particular route to reach a difficult summit. He liked it so much that he went exactly the same way over and over.
He ran a groove through the ashes into the dirt. As the months passed and then the years, life began to return to those hills until eventually there were few signs of the devastation. But there was and still is an undisputed sign. Doug’s Trail. He had carved out his groove and the vegetation grew up around it fixing it there. As long as he remains true to his trail, it continues to stay clear for him. In fact, it is on Google Maps (image below)
Making Your Brand Trail
Regeneration after the devastation of a fire can have a surprising relationship to the forging actions we take in our marketing for both personal branding and our business brand. At first, the landscape is wide open, the trail or directional route unestablished. But as we take one step and then another and all the steps that will follow, a pattern emerges. That pattern becomes the blueprint that others will know us by.
So in much the same way that Doug made his own trail, we find our way in identity building, branding and marketing our businesses and ourselves. We may have some twists, turns and tributaries but our main trail is the one that will be most recognizable. The one we will be best known by.
Take care to make your trail intentional and manage it thoughtfully. Everything you do will be part of it. Each action, reaction, interaction …word, sentence, paragraph, article, book, interview …photograph, graphic, meme, video …connection, association, conversation, relationship, even mood, attitude, behavior is part of your personal and business groove or trail. Particularly online. But offline as well. It’s actually helpful not to make a distinction.
This isn’t something to be afraid of or worry over. It’s something we can get excited about. The lion’s share will happen naturally, organically and authentically if we’re active. If we are paying attention and diligent, it will ultimately be efficacious and we will be able to look back later to see where we’ve come from and imagine where we are going. How we are known and not yet known well enough and then we and others can use those pieces of knowledge as signposts or landmarks [the kind that aren’t burned].
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Pre-Remix photo iStock Photo, Remix: Gina Fiedel
Pre-Remix photo “After The Fire” Doug Anderson, Remix: Gina Fiedel
Pre-Remix image Google Maps screenshot
Wildfire Postscript For The Not So Faint of Heart
Wildfires are about the most spine-chilling, awe producing forces I’ve witnessed in nature. I used to have nightmares about them. …I still do.
Yet they are nature’s way of pushing the re-set button, forcing and maintaining healthy balance in the environment. They are necessary.
[or at least the fires not started by humans are]
Out Of The Fire
The loss of control in the midst of a fire is beyond wildest dreams because fire has a power that is beyond belief. Fears about losing our homes and material possessions, our own and our loved ones’ physical safety and the safety of the courageous individuals who fight the fires all abound but can pale in the face of the violence of the fire itself.
[unless, of course, you actually suffer those losses…]
The earth is scorched, all vegetation is now either devastated or blackened from the blaze. Structures are gone; vast empty spaces left in their stead scattered with the bits of debris that withstood the heat; melted or disfigured beyond recognition. Tortured foundations, exploded cars, broken chimneys; shards of what used to be. The landscape looks like another planet, foreboding and foreign. It feels like everything we have identified with, are familiar with, has either been removed or severely altered. Even the oxygen feels gone.
We don’t know north, south, east or west from landmarks on the terrain because there are so few markers or signposts to tell us where we are. With so much missing, our directional prompts are missing too. We can be lost.
But slowly, over time, life refreshes and starts over. Things grow back and a new order is established. We begin to know ourselves again.
Put Aside The Sorrow Of The Losses For A Moment If You Can
If you can see around the sides of the wreckage, there is also a beauty to the remains of the landscape. It’s mysterious, threatening, barren, but we are reassured knowing that there is a purpose – replenishment. The ultimate do-over.
Loss And Gain
Fortunately, pretty much all I’ve lost due to wildfire is my equilibrium –my sense of security and safety while gaining an overdose of wasteful adrenaline and cortisol to counter the losses.
A number of years ago, we had to evacuate our home twice within a six-month period. This was due to fires that came terrifyingly close. Living at the urban/wilderness interface has its advantages …and its disadvantages. Harrowing.
Dear friends, acquaintances and many others lost every single thing in those two fires except the clothes on their backs and what may have serendipitously been in their car at the time the infernos broke out. We were crazy fortunate- the second fire burned homes just around the corner from us and all we had to suffer was a house and all its contents blackened by soot.
For the humans affected, the aftermath of a fire can become a long journey of re-building. Starting over from scratch for those who choose to do so. Not everyone does.
It’s also a time for the earth to re-build, re-grow its covering. But before it does, there’s an opportunity that I’ll bet not many have thought of.
~ Post Postscript: Doug’s Trail is used by a lot of other people now too! But they don’t know its name.
Thanx for a great article. This is some what different form the original that I had the privilege to preview and comment on with the two options. I enjoyed the way that you introduced the image of the aftermath of the fire. Your story around this made so much sense, and I enjoyed how you managed to keep the flow of the story focused.