How to Create a Brand When Branding Seems Terrifying

A man climbing up a mountain

I know the process of promoting your business can bring up some scary stuff. You might feel like something is holding you back from expressing the true nature of your offerings, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

I’ve never been able to address this issue until now. This week, I want to introduce Susan Johnstone to you so you can get to know her a little better.

Susan and I have spent the last few months creating a program for people who want their business to look professional but aren’t comfortable with the branding and marketing process.
For this interview, we took turns asking each other a few questions, and I started.

Susan’s journey, and what to expect on yours

PAMELA: It’s unusual for a marketing expert and a personal development coach to band together to create a course. What made you realize this combination would offer something special?

brand marketing strategy and information from SusanSUSAN: What I learned from my own personal business journey is that confidence and self-promotion go hand in hand. Since childhood, one of my deepest instincts has been to hide or be invisible. So the whole process of building a business and realizing that I needed to market and promote has been an inner call to come out of hiding — and in my work I believe that our soul always calls us down the exact pathways that will uncover our fullest, most essential self.

What I’ve seen in myself and in the many others that I’ve worked with over 14 years, is that every time there’s an increase in confidence and self-esteem, our comfort level and willingness to be seen and known goes up as well. And not just our willingness changes, but we start to experience a safety inside that tells us we won’t get back the reactions that we used to fear from being so visible, or that if they do come they won’t shatter us after all. We’re OK no matter what.

I had gathered all the marketing and branding info that I could possibly stuff into my computer over the years. But I wasn’t able to apply any of it until I felt confident and safe enough to step out. That’s why this project appeals to me so much.

PAMELA: Is the process of moving past these inner blocks painful?

SUSAN: I don’t see it as a painful process at all. I think inner work has gotten a bad rap in general, because people have gotten stuck in their emotions or haven’t had a process and structure to move them out of the past and into a chosen future.

Yes, there can be some emotion that comes up, but my process specifically trains people in how to identify with their larger “authentic self” or heart, and that’s a very spacious place. The blocked places in us feel small and painful, but our larger Self knows how to make space for every part of us and bring kindness and compassion and that’s what actually does the work of resolving the old blocks and limitations.

PAMELA: What kind of transformation should people expect to experience from the work they do in your part of the course?

SUSAN: The most important change in people who do this kind of work is that they gain the ability to be a best friend to every single part of themselves that’s hurt or afraid. When that happens, they cease to be afraid of their own fear and emotions and they actually have the ability to work with them constructively in any moment when they come up.

“…they won’t be at the mercy of their own procrastination, self-sabotage or resistance anymore …”

That means they won’t be at the mercy of their own procrastination, self-sabotage or resistance anymore and they’ll actually have the awareness to first see it and then compassionately work through it to keep going on any path they choose, whether it’s promoting their business or skydiving.

Pamela’s branding obsession, and how you can benefit from it

SUSAN: What does going through the branding process actually do for people?

brand marketing and design information from PamelaPAMELA: The branding process allows a business owner to crystallize the vision they have for their business, and communicate it in a way that it will resonate with their target market.

In some cases, a person may have a business brand already, but they know it’s not communicating their offerings as well as it could be. They’re simply not seeing the sales they’d like, or they’re attracting the wrong audience.

In other cases, they’re starting from scratch. They want to create a brand that will have a long “shelf life,” and will represent their company now and well into the future. But they don’t know where to start!

Once they’ve done the work, they feel great about promoting their business. They’re happy to get out there and spread the word, invite people to their website and pass out their business cards.

SUSAN: How does building a strong brand help a business grow?

PAMELA: Well, all the promotion that naturally happens when you’re happy with how your marketing materials work is good for business!

“Well designed and well written materials tend to attract the right kind of customers …”

Well designed and well written materials tend to attract the right kind of customers, too. When your business looks polished and professional, it’s seen as trustworthy, and you can usually charge more for your products and services.

SUSAN: What has made you care about branding so much?

PAMELA: I’ve been helping people brand their businesses for almost 25 years now, and I never tire of seeing the transformation that happens when good marketing materials are put into place.

Employees sit up a little straighter, you know? And owners feel great about getting the word out about their business. It’s just amazing when the message and the way it’s delivered align perfectly. It’s very powerful!

All these years, I’ve offered this service to larger organizations at a high price. But through programs like ours, I can work with people in a group format so they can benefit from this information without having to pay thousands of dollars for it.

[EDIT: the program is now closed]

Many thanks to albany_tim on Flickr for the perfect photo.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson coaches people to build profitable online businesses. She's an online educator, author, and keynote speaker. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

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10 thoughts on “How to Create a Brand When Branding Seems Terrifying”

  1. Right on! I remember all of the shame I used to have promoting myself and my services while my website was unfinished or “under construction.” It’s cause I didn’t yet have all of the pieces together. But once it all “fell into place” it clicked, and I was proud to tell people about my business and what I do.

    When you mentioned employees sitting up straighter: I remember reading a graphic design book about a brand transformation. The company was a call reception service called Worksource. In the process of rebranding, they gave it a new name and a whole new identity: Ruby Receptionists. The current website is

    Anyway, I often like to think of that example as a good metaphor for the power of transforming a lacklustre brand into one that’s strong and appealing. As a result of their rebrand, employee turnover reduced drastically, and the number of active accounts they gained as a result increased tenfold.

    And as far as self-promotion goes, I think Bob Parsons hit the nail on the head in his “rules to live by” when he said: “Get out and stay out of your comfort zone!”

    Thanks for the article ladies.

  2. Re: “confidence and self-promotion go hand in hand.”

    I couldn’t agree more with this statement! Sooner or later, you have to tell yourself (and come to accept) that your ideas are good enough. In fact, they’re better than you think they are. Once you hit that point, launch away!

    • I agree with Ricardo’s take on this, and I think the quote is right on point. Launching a new brand or business concept takes the right mix of confidence in the concept and confidence in your own ability to make the concept succeed. Once you reach that point it’s time to move forward.

  3. Pamela and Susan, I’ve read through Susan’s ebook, and I’ve had a look through the program for the course. This looks like a winning combination! Best of luck with it.

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