On being a horrible branding client.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We learn something new everyday.” I agree. Today I have learned that I am a horrible client.

Why? Read on, dear friend.

When working with clients to build or rebuild brands, we start with a workshop to discover everything we can about where our client is now, where they want to be instead and why. This workshop has structure, but at the same time, it is a fluid exercise. We encourage clients to share anything and everything that comes to mind as we serve them small prompts, like Venus and Serena’s dad serving them balls, that they run for and hit repeatedly using a million different muscles. But never fear; we don’t make clients run, and no hand-eye coordination is necessary to attend our workshops.

Why do we have workshops and not worksheets? You ask because your time is precious and you never have enough.

We lead workshops either remotely or in-person to activate the collective energy of humans gathering and thinking together. In brand strategy, this is called collective effervescence. How often have you been in a meeting, discussing a project, and amid this loosely structured meeting, you have an idea? Would you have had that same idea on your own? At your desk? While filling out yet another form?

We think not.

We believe the world needs fewer forms and more human interaction.

More structure with a lot of space built-in for sharing, thinking together about specific ideas, dreams, goals, behaviors, data, learning, cultures and movements, history, the future, and results. When we think together, in a safe environment, we have one rule and one only. The rule improv uses for comedy is, “Never say no.” When someone shares something, you add your ideas, memories, or knowledge building on what was shared. This process diminishes the fear of failure and builds trust and collaboration, making it easier for people to be vulnerable and express ideas. The result is collective positivity and a safe space for sharing, creativity, and innovation.

So, why are we a bad client? Or why am I, Marni, a bad client? Because I hired someone to help us think about our brand. I have confidently and successfully done this for clients, but I am wrestling with the process for our brand. The first step was a worksheet to fill out. That worksheet is still blank. I haven’t done my homework, and in fact, I lost my it. Yikes. I need more help with branding than any of the clients at Seed Agency right now.

I am now going to go back to working on my worksheet. But if you feel like it’s time to think about how well your brand is connecting with your intended audience, let’s talk. I would rather help you than fill out this worksheet.

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Change is the only constant. How to embrace and leverage it to strengthen your brand.

Around here we think a lot about change. Working with clients to create new iterations of products and brands, we are up to our elbows daily in looking at the process, and whys, the challenges, ways to make it more palatable, ways to inspire embracing the difference between where a brand or a person is now and their ideal vision of themselves in the future.

Yet every day in our own lives, we find ourselves bracing against change, looking for small ways to avoid it because let’s be real, the idea of constant change is disturbing.

Small amounts of change can feel refreshing, like entering a newly painted room or taking a weekend trip to a place with a higher altitude, or more sunshine than you’re used to. So how do we balance the need for stability and the need to remain open to small shifts? Small shifts that enable us to stay plugged into the world around us, but not overwhelmed? Shifts that allow us to emerge and grow into our best selves without feeling like we’ve changed so much we’re unrecognizable?

I remember a few times in my twenties being asked to house, baby, or puppy sit. I’d say yes because the idea of stepping out of my own life for a few days or a week intrigued me. Sometimes I not only lived in someone else’s house, but I drove their cars – think baby seats and dog hair. Living in someone else’s house and driving their car was delightful. I was fully immersed, dwelling in another person’s home, reading their books, cooking with their pots, and trying their spices. One time it involved borrowing a shirt, (think babies who spit up) but mostly I stayed away from wearing their clothes. That seemed like a boundary line inappropriate to cross, unlike using their soap in the shower and their shampoo. Pretty much I was still me, but everything around me was theirs.

I loved it. Until I was ready to go home again.

Going home after one of those visits allowed me to see my world with new eyes. It helped me discern what I wanted to keep and create more of and what I was ready to part with.

So how does this apply to work? To brands? Clearly, a brand cannot try on the trappings of another brand for a weekend. Or can it?

When we work with clients on content planning, we look at the competition. We look at who the competition follows and who they are followed by. We look at their hashtags. We sift and sort and learn from what they are doing. We go back to what we are doing, shift where appropriate, test and measure results. We continue to make small changes, aligned with our brand core, and watch what transpires.

Regardless of whether we wish to evolve our brands, or ourselves, the world is evolving around both constantly. Eventually, if we want to keep playing, we must confront change and find a way to participate.

And when we do this, we first remind ourselves why we do this. We do this because it would be our avocation if it weren’t our vocation.

So before you feel overwhelmed by the idea of change, first allow yourself to feel the joy that comes from feeling plugged in, listened to, alive, and understood. Then marry this feeling of joy and connection to the process of evolving. And then take the first step to assess where you wish to go from here and what needs to happen first to get there.

And if you’d like a partner to walk through the process with you, to guide you, and encourage and inspire then we are right here.

Our Process + You = The Process

Frequently we are asked, “What is Seed Agency’s process? How do you work?”

In answer, we share a narrative of the steps we take, successfully working through a project from point A to point Z.

But since the most recent share, the question remains in my mind, some part of me not satisfied. “Why?” I wondered, “Can my mind not let this go?”

And thus, I walked, I talked with team members and current clients, a past client, a smart neighbor.  I might also have had too many cups of coffee and bars of chocolate while pondering.

The question is like someone asking, “How do you walk?”

Because our process of creating a new brand or reimagining an existing one has been honed over years of doing. But not thinking about or articulating the doing outside of the vernacular and jargon we toss around in the office, or in Zoom calls. We began to rethink how to articulate how we see our process. We added and subtracted. Putting down initial ideas,  building on those, or taking away, adding more in again, sculpting, then stepping away.

By stepping back, viewing the question from a metaphoric 30,000 feet across a variety of industry categories, client types, not to mention personalities, a new view emerged.

We have our core approach, which is structured, methodical, tried and tested, but depending upon the client and the project, the approach is like a stretchy net, a structure that can be wielded to accommodate the needs of the client we are working with and the problem we are working to solve. It is structured and it is flexible. It is somewhat different in form and experience for every client and project we encounter. Like any relationship-based activity, the dynamic is slightly different every time. But good different.

The most important part is that our process is proven. As evidenced by the success of countless projects small and large, we create greater awareness, engagement, and ultimately value for our clients. For that, we are grateful, gratified, but also, just because, excited to experience the evolution of the process as we continue to be challenged by our clients and ourselves.