“Just be yourself” said everyone who ever offered advice to a single other human being. An incredibly simple statement that often is the hardest to implement.
If you told me to wear a bunny costume and hop around like my life depended on carrots, that might actually be easier to do. That’s a clear directive. A sure way down the path to success according to hypothetical experts (fake experts, not experts at hypotheses).
But why is it when someone tells us to be ourselves do we feel apprehension and anxiety? By all logic, it’s advice we should all heed in our personal as well as business lives. It should be the easiest thing for us to accomplish.
But it’s not. It's because it is ambiguous.
And fair enough, when we’re talking about personalities and complex people who wants to fit themselves in a box with a label and just do that forever?
We’re bigger than boxes and harder to describe than labels, despite the ones we give each other anyways. We can mix country with classical and art with arithmetic if we want.
No–I won’t get all Dr. Phil on you (is that guy still around?) I want to talk about your business because that is something we can label and box.
The label and story of your business is the most important aspect to understand when it comes to designing a logo, let alone executing your concept in the dining space.
This is why we dedicate ourselves to fully understanding a business before we ever start any paid work. Our questionnaire elicits responses leading us through the rabbit hole giving us a beat on who we are designing for and what is necessary for them.
One of our first questions is “What does your business do?” We receive responses as simple as “We make smoothies” that really don’t give a full picture of a business. It’s about as basic a response one can make when asked “Who are you?” — “Kyle”.
When someone tells you to be yourself it’s never that simple. Your business is no different but it’s that ambiguity, again, that makes the question difficult.
There is always a back story. Why did you decide to make smoothies? Where in the smoothie market did you see a gap you could fill? Likely there are personal reasons you want to set up shop. What are those? They often can be the most compelling in the story of your business.
Our questionnaire is just 35 questions but you can see how easily it could balloon to a hundred. When you really know your business’ story and who it really is, being itself becomes a piece of cake.
Stop doing what doesn’t fit the story and start doing what does.
It’s information you can use to choose your menu items just as much your decor. Well, almost. There is a second part of the equation that is equally as important if not more so.
They all have stories as well. When your story plays a part in their story, you’re in business.
This is why we harp on it in the questionnaire. We aren’t able to design a successful logo for your business if we don’t know who is going to gobble it up.
We ask “Who is your ideal customer?” to personify your target market. If you’ve read any entrepreneurial blog or book you’ve come across the advice “When you target everyone, you get no one” or something along those lines. That’s because it is true.
It also is just crazy difficult to see how your story overlaps with hundreds or thousands of different people. When you choose one person you can identify the foods they like, the music they listen to, and the shows they watch.
All of it is important even if it doesn’t directly connect to making smoothies. Imagine you know your customer’s lifestyle intimately. Maybe you know they watch Netflix or eat out two or three times a week.
Doesn’t pricing become a lot easier? You know what an organic, energy boosting, locally sourced smoothie is worth to them. Maybe you’re undercharging?
What if they watch Jamie Oliver or Planet Earth? This fills in the picture just a little more about what is important to them. Tailor your menu.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a third aspect you should understand about your business: your competitors. Whether you see them as competition or colleagues, knowing what is out there will help you see how your story fits your customers’ in a better or complementary way.
Knowing exactly who the competition is will give you tremendous insight as to what you can market to maximum effect.
Seeing gaps in your own business is difficult, but seeing them in another’s can be seen plain as day. Use the insight wisely. Your business might have similar holes to fill. You might also have a perfect opportunity to scoop up customers in the competition’s blind spots.
So what is the real reason “Be yourself” is so angst ridden?
It requires a lot of self reflection for your business, your customers, and your competitors. It’s work, but it’s not far from reach.
Once you know who your business is, it all comes together like a game of Battleship. That first strike gives the whole thing away.