You might not recognize this yet, but as a business owner, you have one specific freedom that puts you on a par with Gods (or demigods at best). It’s not the power to design your own schedule or control your fees. It’s more intangible than that.
Have you guessed what it is yet?
It is language. Words. It’s the words that I am stringing along on this page that you see but will never touch; it’s the words that you, as an entrepreneur, who is out there raging to save the world, will work hard to find to describe herself to her audience.
It is not a secret that words mean money in business. Which is why, if you are out there trying to find clients – the right clients – should pay close attention to what I am about to say:
Finding the ONE word which summarizes your services, the value you deliver, and the charisma you spread, can stop prospects in their tracks. It can captivate the mind of an ideal client, who would’ve otherwise kept walking.
It will also signal to certain people NOT to approach you, and that’s okay. Because you don’t want just any client. You are looking for the ones that are looking for you.
Finding your ONE word for your brand is what I call a BRAVE POINT, because it is a point of no return. That one word resurfaces only when you know that there is no turning back or going back to where you came from.
For my brand that word is Bravery. Six months ago, when my family was struggling to find a home to live in, I decided that this was my point of no return. I had to figure out my business even if it killed me. I went all in. And I had to transpose the things I was doing for safety with those I wasn’t doing out of fear. I started writing and talking about literature, even though literature is quite remote from my profession of branding. But literature runs like a lean, muscular rope through my life. It was there when I was growing up and it had saved my life every single time I hit rock bottom. Literature is, in a way, my brave dialogue with the world.
So I use it in my brand, as a silent part of its character. It adds depth and it gives me meaning.
Finding the one word for your brand is a BRAVE POINT also because,
in a way, by reducing your whole world to one notion, by shrinking your human universe to one formal symbol, you go against every instinct of your creative mind. Whose world fits into ONE word? And, furthermore, why is this necessary? It is necessary, because…
One word (no pun). Control.
The book of Genesis tells us that when god gave Adam his first lesson, it wasn’t anything practical, like planting seeds or making a fire. No. He thought him how to name all of his creatures. Because naming was the most potent power Yahweh could bestow upon mortals. Through naming, Adam gained domination over the earth.
Naming introduced meaning and structure.
“To name is to know. And to know is to control.” says Leonard Shlain in his wonderful book “The Alphabet versus the Goddess”.
I always flinch when I hear the word “control”, but control is not such a bad thing in small business operations. By naming your ONE word, you will start to create a center which will magnetize certain people (hopefully your ideal clients) and repel others. This is one instance, the only one I can think of, in which marginalization is actually a good thing.
At the end of the day though, please know that the power of language doesn’t come without liability.
We have this power to use language symbolically, but responsibly. There is always the danger of it being reductive, and discriminating, and cold. On the other hand, there is the potential of it being a capsule of truth. One word. Memorable. Sharable. It reduces you, but it also takes you out of yourself, which Ann Lamott says “is heaven.”
Words are just symbolic signs that help us get our point across, but they can discriminate if we make them THE TRUTH, the one thing that guarantees all meaning. Nothing can guarantee all meaning.You can only speak for your truth. A sign, in the words of Umberto Eco, is anything that can be used to tell a lie. But, he explains, it is only so, because it can also tell the truth.
So beware of the power of words to CONTROL and LIE, and make sure you use it to tell the truth. Your truth.
One way to do this is, when you come up with the ONE word for your brand, make sure you have a story to tell that backs it up; a narrative rich enough to build meaning and context around your ONE word. A singular word can be easily taken out of context, but if you give it depth form your personal story, it could be medicine.
Our superpower is language, and it is freedom, and medicine, but it is also a hold, manipulation, a war. These powers live inside of us, we are not just one or the other, we are all of them all the time.
Such is the glory and tyranny or words, and the divinity inside you. Welcome to Olympus, gorgeous-demigod-you!