By Kathy Heasley, the founder and principal of Heasley & Partners, Inc., a full-service branding company.
Being an entrepreneur is about far more than simply the goods or services you and your company provide. It is the role of every entrepreneur to transform society and the world. Still, many don’t know how to do it, or they are afraid to take on such a big charge. Of course, the best and most successful entrepreneurs seize the opportunity and go for it!
To me, it’s all about enlightenment. My mission is to help people build better businesses and lives, and the way I do that is through what I call Heart & Mind™ Branding. It’s how you build a business with heart while you keep in mind business objectives. Only then can you absolutely love what you do, better the lives of people, improve society and keep your doors open.
In my experience with entrepreneurs (and I’ve worked with them as clients for more than 20 years), I find that they can be visionary and forget such things as goal-setting, strategy, measurement, etc. They can be extremely tactical and emotionally charged. That’s good. That passion serves entrepreneurs well— for a while. But then as they grow, their heart-based company can run into big problems. Systems are usually lacking, consistency is non-existent and creativity runs unchecked. People who work for this kind of leader usually adore the person and have bought into the dream. They are disciples and will do anything the leader asks. This is their life’s work. But they feel misdirected much of the time, and don’t really know if they are doing a good job or making any headway.
The other type of entrepreneur that I see is the very mind-based leader. This person tends to run the entire company like a highly regimented forum meeting. Everything is on a timetable; if an impromptu issue comes up in a meeting, take it “off-line,” even if it is critical to the group. This kind of leader focuses on goals, objectives and key success indicators at the expense of a higher purpose and greater vision. Everything is on a spreadsheet and it’s all about the numbers. This works okay for a while, but once the company grows beyond a few people, those new people must be inspired; there is little inspiration and little to hold the company together. Worse yet, any competitor with employees who are “on a mission” because they are inspired by a visionary leader will pummel the mind-based company. People who work for the mind-based leader have a boss, and they are merely employees. They go to work and do a job. They are not on a mission, they are on the clock; that lack of emotional connection often shows in the quality of work.
Of course, these are the extremes, and there are many shades of gray. But gray isn’t good, either. Ideally, the best scenario is the entrepreneur who can blend both heart and mind to form the company and the brand. Yes, mind-based leaders, you have the permission to put your heart in your work and share that passion internally and externally. That’s what sells, and that’s what works. And yes, heart-based leaders, you have an obligation to first create the box you are so good at thinking outside of. Without some structure, you will never achieve your dream. The answer is Heart & Mind Branding, the method we created and have used since 1994. The premise of building a company from the brand up starts with our definition of a brand: The Promise + The Experience. When those two things are equal, you have a great brand. So how do you get there?
The process is simply this:
- Discover Your HEART – Bring the passion to life; it is your power.
- Create Your MESSAGE – Put that heart into words; every great movie first has a great screenplay.
- Develop Your IMAGE – When you know what you want your imagery to say, you’re ready to develop it.
- Craft Your ACTIONS – Build your brand through operations, too. This is the brand experience.
- Establish Your SYSTEMS – When you get the promise and the experience down, systematize it for consistency and scale.
The days of branding being a creative activity are over. Heart & Mind Branding takes this critical business function and places it in its rightful place: As the manifestation of everything you are and the foundation for all you do.