Welcome to The Spark Show! In this episode, I’ll be talking about what to do when your brand evolves. I’m super excited for this episode because I’ve been going through a ton of changes in my personal life which spills into my personal brand.
As influencers, that’s what happens. Our content reflects what’s going on in our day-to-day lives, so, it’s important to share that journey with our audience because it’s real. Not only is it great content because you can share what’s currently happening in your life, but it also helps your audience feel more connected with you because you’re inviting them into your actual reality.
I’m going to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned from almost 6 years as an influencer. Remember, what you’re seeing is an evolution of my brand and me as a person. This was not how it started in Chapter 1.
What I see a lot of influencers doing is they’re always comparing their Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 5, 10, 15, even 20, and that really isn’t going to do anyone any good, because you’re not seeing the challenges. You’re not seeing the whole story on Instagram!
So, that’s actually a perfect segue into the first lesson that I want to share with you.
Usually, when you see someone achieving success, you’re not seeing the whole picture. You’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. You didn’t see the formation or foundation that has been formed usually for many, many years and even decades.
For most people, what you see is not the first attempt or even the second or third. It’s usually the culmination, the evolution of everything that they have been working towards.
So, when you see someone achieving that success, you wanna make sure you catch yourself before you get into disappointment, sadness and negative feelings. There’s a few shifts you can make here:
So, instead of comparing yourself to others, you can start preparing and shifting yourself into a perspective that’s going to serve you instead of sabotage you.
Many times, we compare and we get sad and disappointed. The self-doubt starts seeping in and then really we stop taking action because we’re like, “what’s the point.” That right there is self-sabotage and the key here is to be aware of what your mind is doing.
Now, this is a big one for me because I’m such a huge planner - ask anyone on my team, my husband, my students. I love having everything all planned out. Why? Because, I like to think everything is under control.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we’re not. No matter how much we plan out in advance and no matter how many trips we already had in the books - things change.
I want you to learn from this because it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan - you absolutely should. But, you also need to be flexible and adapt to the current situation and climate.
When the pandemic broke out, I had to definitely pivot and change up my content. I could no longer talk about traveling the way I used to and going to events, and, all the brands did this, not just the personal brands but also the biggest brands out there.
Just check out your emails in March through May, you’ll see all the brands changed their messaging, and that’s what has to happen with your personal brand as well. When things in the world change, so does your messaging.
Your audience is looking to you on what you’re going to say and do.
The same thing happened with the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement became the number one thing that everyone was talking about. It was no longer optional to stay silent because people were looking to brands/companies, leaders and influencers on who was going to address the situation and who wasn’t.
I spoke about the pandemic right away as well as declared my stance on social justice issues. Where people were trying to stay safe and silence it in their groups, I made sure to let my audience know what my core values are as a person and as a brand.
And a lot of influencers avoided the situation and to me, that was a mistake because when you have people looking up to you as a leader, you do have to lead.
A lot of huge influencers got called out on social media and in the news for making it a political issue when it’s an issue for humanity. And, if you have humans following you, which we all do, then it’s up to you to make your community safe for every human being that you’re in front of.
For me, it’s been a mission to use my platform for good and the influencers that I see that are making an impact are the ones that are doing the same. So, you have to ask yourself, what does my brand stand for? And, let your followers and your audience know so that they can make a decision if they want to stay or go.
I’ve had people unfollow me unfortunately and leave The Spark Society because they thought I was being “too political” and what they didn’t understand was that with my community being full of diverse women of color, it was important to me to make sure they felt seen, heard and safe and if there was anyone who was being racist or not fighting for their rights, they were not welcome in the group.
This is something I’m super proud of with my community. They backed me up even if others disagreed and even if some people called me a “racist against whites” for amplifying black voices and protecting my students.
I have always been an activist but it’s not something that I really spoke about in my blog or business and I realized that that can no longer be the case. People want to follow people who align with their core values, so if you’re not making it known - they will notice or seek out others who do.
This can change for everyone, a lot of people realized how much they wanted to fight for causes they cared about and you should use your platform for this type of impact. You shouldn’t be afraid to inject this into your brand because there are brands out there who want to partner with influencers who actually care about making an impact.
Aside from global and humanitarian issues, what I can guarantee you is that you will change. Think about who you were 10 years ago, even 5 years ago - chances are you’re a different person.
So, when you think about your brand, don’t think of it as a static thing that will never change. Don’t think of writing your mission statement once and that’s it. I want you to think of it as a living, breathing thing that will continue to grow and evolve over time.
It’s okay to change who you are and change your mind about things. So many influencers and entrepreneurs I know get stuck on things because they’re against this concept - they think success is a level that you reach and that’s it.
No, you get to one level and then there’s a next level. At any time, you can choose to redefine who you are, what’s important to you, where your focus goes. It’s important for you to know that you will continue to change and that’s okay.
The idea you may have today may not exist next year. I know it’s scary, but it’s also exciting. I couldn’t even have imagined 10 years ago that I would be moving to Minnesota and be a stepmom. That wasn’t even in the realm of my imagination.
If you’ve been following me for a while now, you know I’m from Los Angeles. I grew up there and that's where my brand, The LA Girl was born. That’s not even the first brand or business, probably the 20th or something like that...that’s a story for another time, another episode!
And, I never thought that one day I would be moving and rebranding. I don’t want to scare you that you have to make your brand non-location based, because I did very well with brand deals and partnerships because I was based in LA.
You’re just gonna have to trust that when the change comes (which it will, because it’s inevitable) that you’ll reassess and make the best decision at that moment for your brand.
People have been asking me, DMing me - “How can you move to Minnesota and still be The LA Girl?” and all these questions!
To tell you the truth, I’m still figuring it all out. I’ve decided to change my handle and now operate under my name - Gwen Lane. I won’t be talking about LA anymore that much since I don’t live there, but really, since the pandemic, that already changed since I was mostly staying home.
I don’t really know what’s gonna happen in the long run, what I do know is that I’m going to continue to help people through The Spark School & The Spark Society. I’ll continue to talk about things I care about like social justice and equality, and sharing more about my wellness journey (which I was already doing as The LA Girl), travel (when we can do so safely), and probably talking more about my journey as a stepmom, and I’ve really been more into home decor and I just recently got into plants!
I used to talk about hiking a lot but now that we’re in the Midwest and there’s not a lot of mountains, I’ll talk about the lake life! I’m super excited about paddle-boarding, kayaking and we just bought our bikes so we can ride around the lakes. And, then the experience of winter which I heard is pretty crazy here in Minnesota! I’m excited for skiing, sledding and ice-skating on a lake - did you see how I just shifted all that fear into excitement?
Because at the end of the day, all we have is this moment. Nothing is for sure, for certain - this year has definitely taught all of us that. I think the best we can do is to live it, share it and help others with our experiences.
I really hope that helps you understand your brand and that it will evolve and that those lessons will give you some perspective on what happens when things change, because they definitely will.
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