What Does It Mean To Build A Brand?

Last week, I talked about the value of writers building their “brand” by connecting with their community and potential readers. That a “brand” is not a dirty word that equates to putting a fake surface on yourself in order to sell something. That branding is about learning how to effectively communicate your purpose and value, within the context of the needs and desires of those in your community.

I have been spending the last quarter of 2011 considering how to build the brand of We Grow Media. This encapsulates two levels:

  1. The underlying purpose – what drives this company, and what effect we hope to have in the world.
  2. How those intentions connect to others, to really empower them to have an impact on the world and build a legacy for themselves.

I want this brand to be something bigger than one person, which is why I didn’t start “Dan Blank Consulting LLC” – I started We Grow Media. A company that can include others, that can grow beyond me. A company that represents something beyond just revenue streams.

In considering what the We Grow Media brand is, I have been considering the journey of the writer. In my life, I have been an artist, writer, musician, and photographer, among other things (*cough* soda jerk *uncough*.) When considering the work of a writer, you can’t judge the value of their work by financial measures alone. That a book earned X number of dollars, or received X advance from a publisher. Their effect is more profound. It extends beyond dollar signs.

Financial gain is not the ultimate validation for your work. The journey itself is often a big part the goal; how it shapes your identity, and provides experiences and connections to others that makes life worth living. That you have an impact on others, and in some meaningful way, help to shape their experience and abilities as well. And that this impact builds a legacy that lasts beyond your lifetime.

For We Grow Media, I want to build a purpose of meaning, not just a clever marketing message put in front of a sales pitch. I want to build something that gives more than it takes. Yes, this is a business, I need to earn revenue to create something sustainable, and support my wife and child to ensure they have a secure future. I make no apologies for that, much of what I offer has a price tag next to it.

But profit is not the driving motivation, it is merely a needed outcome, one of many. The purpose of the business – the effect on the world – the meaning I can create in the lives of others – is of greater value. Teaching and education are a primary focus for me. It is what fueled my work with a school in Harlem for the past 7 years. It is why I have focused on how people learn, and how to most effectively create online courses and in-person workshops. It why the topic of education is a constant conversation between me and my wife (a teacher) and my friends (many of whom are teachers.) Education is an incredibly powerful way to have an exponential effect on the world.

For each of us, what we create and build – whether it is a book or a business – is often with the goal of NOT becoming Willy Loman. Someone whose value is not based on a quarterly sales charts. Whose measures for success are not empty – a job title, a salary. Whose life is not merely a commodity for others to leverage in reaching THEIR goals.

That you want to truly impact the lives of others, not just move product. That you want to build a legacy.

I am excited for the 2012 plans I am working on. If you have any feedback on how I can better serve you, please let me know.