Last time in the article ‘Branding: Myths, Truths and the Grace of Connection’ we looked at common misunderstandings about branding, and touched upon 4 key relationships that influence our branding. We talked about how cohesive branding is vital for any business to communicate effectively to its audience.
Today I want to take a deeper look at branding from a 7 Graces perspective, and particularly how our relationship with SELF influences and impacts the way others perceive and receive our business.
‘Know Thyself.’ ~ Socrates
Since the beginning of time, mankind has sought to understand the great mystery of ‘Self’. Who are we really? What motivates us to think, feel and act as we do? Are we truly conscious beings? Is there such a thing as ‘free will’ or are we helpless creatures unconsciously driven by genetics and social conditioning—or perhaps even ‘fate’? Or, as some philosophies profess, is the person we perceive ourselves to be merely an illusion?
Such questions have been argued for millennia, and clearly there is no single, all-encompassing answer that satisfies all seekers of Truth. My personal explanation of ‘Self’ is not one thing, but a 5-layered spectrum of awareness:
- Inherited self – formed by our genetic blueprint/DNA; this is the deepest layer of ‘unconscious self’ created by ‘Nature’, where our actions and reactions may be (or at least feel like they are) beyond our control, and are operating at a ‘survival’ level.
- Conditioned self – beliefs, attitudes, customs, patterns of behaviour formed by our association with family, society, etc.; this is the next layer of ‘unconscious self’ created by ‘Nurture’, where we are habituated to doing things and thinking a certain way without question.
- Conscious self – when we become aware of the unconscious layers of self and they start to lose their grip on us; this is where we become aware of our motivations, clarify our direction, and become more decisive and purposeful in our actions.
- Macro-conscious self – when we develop an awareness and sensitivity to the ‘space’ around us; at this level, we develop a social consciousness towards the needs, pains and wants of the greater ‘social self’, and feel a responsibility to (and connection within) it.
- Meta-conscious Self – when we develop an awareness of the greater ‘Will’ of the Creative Energy, the cycle of life, etc.; here we are able to tap into and utilise the energy of the ‘Whole’ rather than just knowing we are a part of it.
All of these layers have to do with the Grace of Connection, but especially Layers 3, 4 and 5. Layer 5 is Connection to Source. Layer 4 is Connection to Others and our Audience. Layer 3 is Connection to ‘self’ (with a lowercase ‘s’, referring to our ‘everyday self’ of day-to-day life). But Layers 3, 4 and 5 taken together comprise a full picture of Connection to ‘Self’ (with an uppercase ‘S’, referring to what some call our ‘Higher Self’).
Back when I was a life coach, I typically helped clients learn how to stop spinning within the whirlpool of the first two unconscious layers (especially Layer 2). This shift from unconscious to conscious often was enough for them to change their lives significantly.
But when we are talking about being a business owner and/or marketer, the issue of self-awareness is not merely something of personal importance. Businesses impact society; society impacts the planet. What we create through our businesses today has a long-term effect on the future. Thus, for a business owner, self-awareness is not a personal option, but a social necessity.
Our Businesses. Our Selves.
Our businesses are expressions of our personal relationship with Self. And that expression will be visible in our branding and marketing. For example:
- A ‘Layer 1’ business is when the business owner is operating at a survival level, usually motivated by money matters. Integrity and ethics are probably not very important. As they have no real vision for what they want to create in terms of social impact, the business owner is likely to dissolve their enterprise and start something else (often radically different) at any given moment.
- At Layer 2, a business owner is heavily conditioned by social influences. They might have taken on the family tradition, or followed in a predecessor’s or mentor’s footsteps. This is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing, but their decisions are likely to be driven by unconscious programming rather than by choice. Integrity, consistency and reputation are probably big influences, but innovation and change may not be.
- A Layer 3 business owner brings in their passions, life-purpose, personal values and inner congruence between themselves and their business. Many of these kinds of entrepreneurs refer to themselves as ‘conscious’ or ‘heart-centred’ businesses or marketers. While the focus is on professional integrity and values, the company is largely driven by the desires and passions of the business owner. Because of this, the brand is likely to shift as those passions change and evolve. I’ve personally known dozens of entrepreneurs in this place who have changed their brand many times within the span of a few years, not so much owing to ‘survival’ issues, but to personal transformation.
- Layer 4 self-awareness is really where NEW paradigm businesses begin. Here is where social responsibility takes birth and the Grace of Connection genuinely begins to unfold. There can be no real question of ethics until we are at least dancing on the edges of Layer 4. It is my observation that many ‘conscious’ businesses tend to stay on that edge, and don’t fully step into Layer 4. My gut instinct tells me that this is due to the pull of the ‘unconscious’ layers of survival and social conditioning. Diving into social consciousness can be a scary thing, but it IS the point where the new paradigm (and the 7 Graces model) begins. The focus and motivating driver is to address a specific social need, with which the business owner feels a deep and consistent connection. Such a business is likely to evolve exponentially over time, its energy emanating from the central focal point (I like to refer to this focal point as ‘the stake’).
- At Layer 5, a business owner is working in the realm of Higher Purpose—beyond self and society. The primary motivator at Layer 5 is a vision to create a long-lasting historical impact or leave a legacy that extends far beyond the parameters of the business itself.
SELF and Brand
Having said all that, it’s important to remember that self-awareness is not a two-dimensional or one-way journey. We are continually dipping in and out of these levels. We go back and forth, up and down and even sideways. We might be more conscious in some areas than others. Some things might trigger us way back down into survival mode. Simply put, there’s no such thing as being 100% enlightened all the time (at least not for us mere mortals).
But more than that, there are many shades of colour to our awareness and our relationship with Self. Each of us is different. Each of us expresses ourself differently. While our brand is unavoidably a reflection of where we are on the spectrum of self-awareness, it should also be a conscious and vivid reflection of our unique relationship with that Self—something that celebrates our uniqueness as well as our connectedness.
It stands to reason, therefore, that for a brand to be meaningful, it needs to start with self-awareness. A new paradigm brand is one in which we have worked through the layers of self one-by-one, until it becomes a seamless outward expression of who we are, what we most believe, and what we wish to create in the world.
Below, are some self-enquiry questions to help you get a better understanding of your relationship with ‘SELF’. These primarily focus on the bridge between ‘Layer 2’ and ‘Layer 3’ (we’ll get more into Layer 4 and 5 in a later article). Don’t feel that you have to ask yourself every question; just answer those to which you feel most drawn:
- What is your life purpose?
- What is your reason for being?
- What drives you to get up every morning?
- What’s your personal story?
- What have you experienced in your life?
- How are your life experiences and cultural background relevant to what you are doing in your business?
- What are your core values?
- What makes you angry?
- What do you stand for?
- What motivates you?
- What are you really seeking?
- What is the pain or emptiness you most wish to fill?
- What do you believe are your greatest strengths?
- What do you believe are your greatest weaknesses?
- How might your greatest weaknesses be your greatest strengths?
- How much does your life express your core values and deepest desires?
- What parts of ‘your story’ or ‘your weaknesses’ do you tend to push away?
- Where in the above questions did you falter or hesitate, or feel like you were ‘just saying’ the answer instead of truly feeling it?
And then, after you have answered the questions you wish to tackle, ask yourself:
- How visible is this in my current branding?
- How can it be more visible?
- How does this (or how could this) make my brand unique, effective and powerful?
- What’s the impact of having this aspect of my ‘self’ more present in my brand?
I hope you found this article to be useful and informative. Next time, we’ll continue our look at the relationship between the Grace of Connection and branding when we explore another of the 7 Key Relationships—the relationship with our audience.
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AND, as always, I welcome your comments, questions and feedback below.
NEW 7 GRACES BRANDING PACKAGE
If you want to create, define OR refine your own branding—with a 7 Graces focus—drop me a line via the contact form on this site, and request a free 30 minute consultation. I’ve just created a rich, new 4-session 7 Graces Branding Package, where we co-create a detailed brand profile using all 7 of the Key Relationships: Self, Source, Others, Your Business, Your Audience, Money and Marketing. You can also choose an optional ‘bolt on’ where you can work with one of my most highly recommended designers who will create your logo, web banner and other branding design. Just drop me a line at http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/contact.
31st May 2013
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The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing.
Brit Writers Awards Finalist
eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically, by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media.
eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)