View your brand from the outside in

How does this DaVinci quote relate to your brand?

“Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgment.Go some distance away because work will be in perspective and a lack of harmony is more readily seen.” (Leonardo DaVinci)

While I love this quote for its important lesson about balancing work and play (yes, talking to you, Mr. “Look how dedicated and important I am that I have not taken a vacation in 6 years” guy, which also translates to “I’m going to have a heart attack before I’m 50”), it’s directly related to your business and brand as well.

We are all so into our businesses. We know every little nook and cranny inside and out, and more importantly know our own intent and motivation within our own heads.  We often forget that customers or prospects interacting with us for the first time (or 2nd or 3rd…) don’t have all that “background reference.” We confuse them with meaningless acronyms and jargon that only we understand because we see it every day. We think we are explaining things well because WE know what we mean, but we’re not. Or we forget to communicate the basics because we take for granted that, “Everyone knows that.” Um, no, they don’t.

The Heath brothers, who wrote one of my fave books, Made to Stick, call this the “Curse of Knowledge.” This applies to brand because we forget to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and view ourselves from the outside in. We have too much info about our own brand and business and it blinds us. Do my visual elements – logo, color, website design – communicate what I really want to be saying, or have we fiddled with it so much over the years that it is now meaningless and generic?  Does my description of what I do make sense to someone who has no inkling about this industry?

Sometimes, the best gift I can give clients is one of objectivity. The less I know about them when we work together initially, the better. Within those first few days, I can give an honest assessment of what it’s like to read their messaging and see their brand with fresh eyes. And I can point out what their brand is actually communicating, despite their best intentions.

I urge you to find objective eyes to audit your brand and messaging every once in awhile and make sure you are on track.  Only when you have some time away from something or distance from the source can you see the forest for the trees and find the holes in the story.

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