Are You Hiding Your Brand Personality?

brand building was a struggle

Today I’d like to introduce you to my friend Carole Sevilla Brown. When I met Carole, she was hiding. Not figuratively, either. Really hiding.

Carole spent four years in hiding.

She had great reasons to hide. Six years ago, she was driving home from work and was stopped at a light. Her pickup truck was plowed into by the car behind her. She broke her neck.

Since then, she lives with pain every single day of her life. The pain gets so bad she has a difficult time holding her head up after a few hours.

After the accident happened, she was unable to work. She didn’t leave the house much. She didn’t want people to see the effects the pain had on her physically. Who could blame her?

When I met Carole online, I didn’t know this back story. We took the Teaching Sells course together (learn more at the bottom of this page), and I knew her as the person in the forum who was helpful, knowledgeable … and had an avatar that showed her with her back turned toward the camera.

Carole’s case might be an extreme example. But who hasn’t felt like hiding at one time or another?

And yet, we’re living in a time when the ability to feel comfortable sharing unscripted, “real” messages about our brand’s personality — and ourselves — allows us to make a connection with prospective customers like never before. But in order to make this connection, you have to allow yourself to be seen.

People want to do business with people, not faceless companies.

“Courage — the original definition of courage when it first came into the English language — is from the Latin word cor, meaning heart. The original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart…”–Brené Brown

About six months after I got to know her online, Carole and I decided to meet in person. We live about an hour apart, so — to me — it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to get together. I didn’t realize what a momentous occasion this was for Carole.

Something amazing had happened since I first met her.

learning to create a brand

Carole found that in the safety of the forums she belonged to, she was able to work through some of the blocks that were holding her back. She found herself ready to stop hiding. She had decided to embrace her vulnerability. She realized it was necessary to have the courage to be imperfect if she was going to move forward, so she left her house and moved out into the world.

All of this internal change was reflected in Carole’s business, too.

Because of her accident, she could no longer do the work she had done for 20 years — general contracting and landscape design. It didn’t take her long to find another passion to devote her time to: wildlife gardening.

Her EcosystemGardening.com website was very plain, and she wasn’t doing much to promote this new area of interest. She had the drive, but her need to hide was holding her back.

Here’s what happened on the inside: She believed she was worthy. She worked through the internal blocks. And guess what happened?

Her business blossomed.

She worked with me to create a new website header. Her brand personality started to shine through.

She started a second blog: a group blog … and then another! Imagine that: the introvert was coordinating a big group of writers, all writing about the topic she was passionate about.

Then, the inevitable occured.

carole's personal branding succeeded

Because she had positioned herself as an authority in her field, she was asked to speak. This brought up all her old fears. But the confidence she’d gained in the past year helped her get over her nerves. She went to that first speaking engagement, and today she travels around the country to speak about her passion on a regular basis.

Now Carole’s making a difference in the world in her area of expertise. Her website, her group blogs and her speaking engagements all support the book she’s writing on her topic. Her hiding days are over, once and for all.

Do you feel like your business is in hiding?

Are you struggling to find your authentic voice? Your brand personality?

Do you resist doing everyday marketing tasks because they make you uncomfortable?

In a couple of weeks, [EDIT: the program is now closed.] I’ll be opening the doors to an eight-week program designed specifically to help you get your business branding looking great and help you to feel confident promoting it. I’m working with the amazing Susan Johnstone, of TheHeartsVoice.com, who I’ll introduce you to next week.

We’ll start by eliminating any discomfort you might feel around promoting your business and being “visible” in your marketing. We’ll work through how to make your brand — both the visual brand and the message you communicate — a true reflection of your products and services that will resonate with your target market.

You’ll end up with a brand you can’t wait to show the world.

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for such an inspiring story Pamela. This area of authentic voice is so fascinating – we know when we’re on the receiving end of it, but maybe not what conditions allow it to come through. Rather like happy healthy plants!

    I coach Olympic coaches amongst others and we identify very clearly what gives them a buzz. Specific instances where they have been ‘in the zone’ or in flow, as psychologists call it. The more they know about this trigger the better – and it enables them to perform at a very high level without concern about work/life balance. It is the key to fulfilment and prosperity, am sure.

    Looking forward very much to hearing more from you on this subject.

    • says

      That’s such an important point, Philippa: finding and then tuning into that feeling shows us when we’re on track.

      I’ll have more for you on this next week, so stay tuned. :-)

  2. says

    Thank you Pamela for writing about my good friend and mentor Carole Brown! I am one of the writers on Wildlife Gardening, and Carole has been such an inspiration to me in so many ways. She is always helpful when I need her and is hands down one of the most passionate people I know regarding the ecosystem, wildlife and native gardening. I’m not trying to gush or anything, but Carole is amazing in so many ways and I feel honored to be her friend and work with her.

  3. says

    Pamela,
    I have a brother-in-law who owns a furniture store that is dying. Soon, I’m thinking they’ll have to go out of business. This summer, I was arguing with his son and partner about the necessity of changing their website and bringing the “personality” of their business out of hiding. You see, my brother-in-law was born in Italy and a lot of his heritage is shown in the type of furniture he sells. I said they they needed to highlight this and was shot down by the son. He felt that businesses such as theirs should not have “faces.”
    What do you think?

    • says

      I think he’s missing an opportunity, Debra. It’s the big furniture chains that don’t have “personalities,” and smaller businesses have an opportunity to position themselves as the alternative. Not everyone wants furniture that looks like the furniture all their friends have.

  4. says

    Pamela, Thank you for profiling Carole and her courage to “come out” as who she is, a person with courage and passion, challenges or no. (And don’t we all have challenges of some sort? How we respond to what life gives is is really the “brand” that defines who we are.) I’m one of the writers on Carol’s native plants and wildlife gardening blog, and am honored to be part of that group. Thanks, Carole, for being you!

    • says

      Susan, yes I think each of us has challenges that we need to learn to face and overcome. Watching you deal with the extreme challenges in your life right now with such grace and still noticing the beauty and wonder of the natural world around you is a true inspiration to me! Thank you for all you do :)

  5. says

    Can I just say how much I love you both! Carole, I love your story and how much it can inspire others who are afraid to step out and claim their place by sharing their passion. And Pamela, I love your voice telling the story. You are a gifted writer and inspiration yourself. xoxo Hope to see you both again soon!

  6. says

    Hi Pamela, What an inspiring story! Nice to be introduced to Carol–I love gardening and landscape design and just love it when I come face to face with a praying mantis or monarch butterfly….I’ll have to browse through her blog and see if she has info on how to gently discourage Norway rats from setting up housekeeping in my garden…(I really don’t like sharing my yard with them and neither do my dogs but I refuse to poison them! Carol maybe you’re reading and can point me to an article :))

    Looking forward to what’s coming up! I can sort of relate to the story though right now I’m sort of at “which brand do I want to be?” And cool to hear about another blogger in the general area (I figure anyone in NE or mid-Atlantic US is a local :).

  7. says

    This is truly a case of girl power! Carole its been great receiving your newsletters here in Australia because I’ve seen how turbo charged you have become. I loved the Sevilla addition and thought it marked a turning point for you. Funnily enough I was thinking about you just this morning I had a kookaburra [one of our iconic native birds]on our roof deck here in inner city Sydney – The bird got stuck into one of my plants tearing up the soil looking for worms! I knew you would have something great to say about him! I’d love to be able to record his warble for you to hear.
    Anyway – great to see you GO so well and in the hands of Pamela’s design fine tuning it’s a real delight.
    Congratulations you deserve the very best.
    Siita Rivas

  8. says

    A post written from the heart – beautifully done! It also reminds me of how much we can never really know what’s going on in someone else’s life, and how important it is to tread carefully. What can seem like a confident person in one setting can really be a person who is recovering from a significant hurt. I’m also reminded of how courage can take many forms and how inspirational it is to bear witness to the extraordinary courage that others display.

    Bravo to you both, Pamela and Carole!

  9. says

    Pamela, i’m new to your site…found you thru Copyblogger, thank goodness. What a day to pop in! Carole’s story is so inspiring, her site is gorgeous…and I’m not a gardener but I do ‘garden’ vicariously through others! Pamela I look forward to next week’s post…been working on my brand as a writer and I think it may still need some tweaking. Carol, i sent you a tweet and hope to hear back from you!

  10. Mike Korner says

    I think this is my favorite post of all time Pamela. Excellent story (hi Carole!), excellent topic, and excellent writing. Of course I could say that about almost all of your blog posts. Very nice!

  11. says

    Glad that you found your heart’s courage Carole, you are an inspiration to a lot of us and knowing your story makes you all the more remarkable.

  12. says

    Pamela, this is a fabulous story; thank you so much for inspiring us with it. I don’t know Carole personally but have admired her work and her passion for the natural world ever since I stumbled across one of her amazing photo-rich articles. This is the first of your posts I’ve read too, and I’m eager to read more from you.

    • says

      Thanks, Evelyn. I’m glad you found your way over here: welcome :-)

      Carole’s articles are pretty incredible, especially since she takes those photos herself. Remarkable!