A brand is no longer just about a carefully-crafted image or perception. It is no longer the manufacturing of a hologram, unreflective of who you are and detached from reality. A conscious brand is the embodiment of the individuals that comprise it. It is how other people experience what you believe. To become the kind of vibrant, sincere and enduring brand that people expect requires conscious leadership.
Consciousness is being highly aware. Moreover, it’s being highly aware of yourself, within yourself. Those who are highly conscious, then, inherently understand their brand is not their business model; it’s not some separate entity. They know their brand is an evocative way to express their essential self to the world.
It’s about being aware that who you are as a person is who you are as a business person, is who you are as a leader — and as a brand. It’s all connected, it’s all the same ecosystem.
You become a brand in a way similar to becoming more conscious: curiosity, seeking, experiencing, learning. Conscious branding is the process of going inward and getting deeply, incisively and bluntly real with yourself.
Branding is about honing and sharing your root truth, your beliefs and standards, your mission and message with the world, and then building a marketing strategy upon that. As we like to say, if the world is going to push back against you (it will), let’s be sure it is reacting to who you really are and not some fake iteration of yourself. You’ll learn more that way — and you’ll also know who is for you and who is not for you, which is one of the Holy Grails of marketing.
Highly conscious leaders are the best branders for several powerful reasons.
First, they know who they are.
Far too many brands suffer from a recurring identity crisis that slows down their ability to grow, to market effectively and to attract and retain the right talent. In most cases, these crises occur because less-conscious leaders have neglected doing deep work to understand and articulate what drives them, why they exist in the world and what reasons they have for throwing themselves into their work. No shame, we all get lost in our work. It’s difficult to pull the car off the highway and rearrange the cargo.
Highly conscious leaders begin (from wherever they are) by basing their work off of who they are. They have done the deep work of self-awareness and rightly see branding it as a vital foundation for organizational growth, effective marketing and keeping and attracting very talented people to their endeavor.
Moreover, their inner knowing has produced an outer awareness and humility that life will push them in unexpected directions. By being rooted in their core selves, they can return to who they are and recalibrate the business, their marketing, and their work from that root.
Second, they make excellent decisions.
Highly conscious individuals know that all decisions are made in the emotional center of the brain and then are justified with the logical function of the brain. Knowing that truth, they are better able to feel, process, intuit, logically assess and rationally weigh decisions. They are also interested and invested in understanding how their decisions impact other people, systems and processes. They use their mosaic thinking to move decisively.
They also know missteps are part of the process of learning and growing and thus they perceive failures as lessons. Because they are not too attached to specific outcomes, they are more able to open to the iteration and improvement that comes from experiencing failure. In the long run, this conscious acceptance of the unknowable makes them more decisive, which saves time and money — and increases their chances of future success.
Those with less consciousness often get mired down in the decision-making process. They fight against the emotional and intuitive aspects of decision-making and feel like decisions should be completely rational. They cast about for advice or look far too often to competitors’ actions alone to determine their moves. In the process, time, money and energy are squandered and opportunities are lost.
Third, they comprehend how vital vision is to every endeavor.
Highly conscious leaders know and own the fact that they are the chief spiritual officer of the brand. They know that one of their most vital functions as the marketing leader or the CEO, is that they envision, nurture, and share the future of their endeavor with everyone involved. All energetic manifestation and realization must begin in the mind’s eye of the leader.
A highly conscious leader tends to their vision regularly and allows it to grow based on unexpected turns and fortuitous changes, too. Less conscious leaders often do not spend enough time with and on the vision. Or they mistake intention as vision, which is often greed in disguise. As such, they miss the opportunity to give their team, stakeholders and the market clear insight into where they are headed. They miss the chance to invite them to join the movement, and every great brand is a movement. As a result, the market, stakeholders and team are not engaged, not invested and are unwilling to participate in the vision — and the business model.
Ultimately, consciousness is about operating in reality. Highly conscious leaders and leadership teams embrace this reality; they build their strategy around it. As a result, they lead the best brands — the ones most known for innovation and impact.
Building upon these three strengths, conscious leadership makes way for the most enduring brand practices: evocative messaging that stands out in the market, natural marketing that puts human beings first, and the telling of resonant stories.
About the author
Emily Soccorsy and Justin Foster are co-founders of Root & River, an intrinsic branding practice for defiant leaders — based on the belief that all great brands are spiritual experiences. Together, they’ve authored Rooting Up: Essays on Modern Branding. They are both writers and keynote speakers, represented by Consciousness Leaders.