“A strong stand is how
you attract superfans. They point to you and defend you. And they
spread the word further, wider and more passionately than any
advertising could… [but ] for everyone who loves you, there will be
others who hate you. If no one’s upset by what you’re saying you’re
probably not pushing hard enough. (And you’re probably boring, too.)”
Those are some fightin’ words. They’re straight from Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37Signals. We thought the chapter titled “Draw a Line in The Sand” from their must-read business book, Rework, is great inspiration for a ten minute brand exercise for our “Your Brand On a Desert Island” themed series.
definitely takes a tough-love stance on figuring out what your beliefs
are as a business overall. They use the “line in the sand” metaphor to
wake you up to the idea that as a business you have to stand for certain
beliefs and stick to them no matter what. If you try to appeal to
everyone, then ultimately nobody will care.
Here’s a way we’ve
adapted the idea as a warm-up exercise to start uncovering your
authentic brand. You can do this on the beach, in a sandbox, or more
realistically – on a piece of paper. You can also do it with more than
one person and compare answers (preferably all wearing Bermuda shorts to
get in the spirit.)
Drawing Your Line
1. Draw a big circle.
2. Draw a line down the middle.
3. Draw a single stone on the left side. That’s you, or your business.
4. On the other side of the line write down what you DON’T stand for.
These are the practices you can’t stand, the things you’ve never liked
doing, believed in doing – or at least want to stop doing. Then once
you get a really unlikable list going, refine it down. Circle the words
that really make you itch with disapproval (it’s okay to even feel
annoyed, mad or even smug about all the things you are not).
5. Now go back and write in all the opposites on YOUR side of the line.
These are the beliefs that make you unique. Or perhaps they are
old-fashioned, simple even – and yet you feel all the more strongly
about them. You’re lucky you have a strong opinion. But most likely, if
you feel like you operate in shades of grey, this exercise is a fun way
to get your point-of-view a little stronger in contrast.
it’s hard for us humans to start with the positives. We’re just flawed
that way. Trying to pin down our beliefs as a business, entrepreneur or
as a creative professional can make that circle of sand seem like an
awfully intimidating blank slate. So start with the “don’t” side to get
all stirred up, but don’t dwell there. The challenge is to hone in where
you can make a stand.
Then stick to your side of the line.
Continue to capture your beliefs and make sure they are being shaped and
shared through your brand. That’s how other people will know you have a line, and a side, that they want to stand behind with you.