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It’s to the point that we can even buy self-identity in a box. Who am I? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do?
Here. Read this book. Take that course. Follow this guru. Find the answers you seek.
But other people can’t tell you your truth. You can mindlessly follow the path they lay out for you, but it will never be your path.
You can’t buy identity.
The famous French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote “Each man must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life. It is not something discovered—it is something molded.”
He says, “Don’t look without. Look within.”
You can pay a branding agency to create your brand. They take the brand-in-a-box off the shelf, add two eggs and water, and magic—you have a brand.
You can do that. But your brand will always be what it is: a cheap, instant imitation of a real brand. It will exist in the marketplace with every other me-too commodity out there, desperately trying to prove itself different and unique.
If you want a real brand—one that has the power to transform people and change the world—you cannot outsource its identity.
A transformative brand isn’t an idea. It’s a force of nature. It’s “an idea whose time has come.”
All great brands have one thing in common: a founder willing to be the vessel of the brand.
The medium. The conduit. The channeler.
These visionaries don’t run from expert to expert asking what their brand is supposed to be.
The opposite: They have such certainty—such conviction—about the identity of the brand that no one can sway them. They live in the vision and the reality becomes inevitable.
You can’t buy that. You won’t find it in an agency pitch deck. There’s no magic man on the mountain who’ll write the answers in the air with flaming letters.
If you have to hire someone else to tell you who your brand is…don’t expect to change the world. Don’t expect it to become great.
Be ready for your brand to live a life of quiet desperation.
But at least it looks pretty.