Though born in 1986, I really love music from well before my birth. Many of the best albums of all time were pre 1980s. Somewhere in the upper echelon of that list of of classic music would be Fleetwood Mac's — Go Your Own Way found in the essentially perfect album, Rumours.
Clients who are brave, hunger for differentiation, and let you use your expertise and creative superpowers (unhindered) to make their brand sing are a dream. But, one of the biggest barriers I see in being able to help small businesses, is stage fright. Specifically, a self conscious fear of being unique or something of their own. It feels cozier to blend in then stand out.
Don't sit comfortably, fading into the back row of the audience. Come into your own. Step up and belt from the stage. That is the essence of what effective "branding" is.
The small business world is loaded with pressure to follow the next (cult-like) marketing guru or self-help book or chase the newest coaches and programs. Always trying to comply to new systems, algorithms, and marketing rules. They change constantly and to some degree, all of it is a distraction. I have fallen into these traps in the past...
There are many voices out there that I do look to and respect. Though I respect them, one critical thing I had to come to realize... none of them are me and though their words might be wise, they may not be apples to apples to my situation or applicable to my unique blend of experiences, values, etc.
When I started taking all this static with a grain of salt and just worrying about being true to myself and going with what felt right for MY vision of what I wanted MY business to be, things became significantly less overwhelming.
It will be nearly impossible sustain staying on top of the latest things or beating the algorithms. They change daily. The way to rise above the system is a strong brand. It is steadfast, ownable and transcends trends, platforms and algorithms.
Another Fleetwood Mac reference... The Chain is a "banger" as the kids say (I think). And that bass riff 🔥 ...
You know how it goes... a flash in the pan internet meme, social platform or online trend pops up and everyone clammers to get their version of it out there before it goes away. A season of everyone having a similarly styled social media profile images (enter cutout photo with solid background color).
There is such a pressure. A feeling that you HAVE to be chained to these things, even though they may come and go in literal days.
All of these types of things make it apparent that it is WAY easier to fall in line than to do your own thing and stand out. To have a successful brand that you can own, you need to break free of these online trends and things and to some degree, put blinders up so you can just produce content that is authentic to your brand.
With all this clutter, we are exposed to discernment is key. Consider what you see and hear out there, but none of it is carved into a stone tablet. What works for many or even most, may not work for you because you are not them. Breaking rules in a smart and purposeful way is much more effective than falling in line, dotting the i's and crossing the t's. It is refreshing to an audience. Squeezing into someone else's mold isn't a good look.
If you are a business owner, solo-preneur, side hustler, etc. having an effective brand presence and voice that is completely your own is liberating. Instead of checking someone else's boxes of the latest trends, you can let your brand flow naturally and make your own boxes to check.