• Matt Phillips

How To Be a Better Brand Builder

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Being a brand builder is hard work. Our Brand Nation team can certainly attest to that! The life of a creative comes with long hours, lots of stress, and inevitable creative burnout. But the upsides definitely outweigh the negatives. Seeing a brand’s identity come to fruition as a result of your work is one of the most fulfilling things in the world. As creatives, we get to make the world a more beautiful place and help businesses put their best foot forward. The tricky part of being a brand builder is keeping a positive outlook (remembering the upsides) and not getting bogged down with the stress of impending deadlines and unfinished projects. So, we thought it would be a good idea to help out our fellow brand builders out there by giving you some practical tips on how to thrive in your work!

Know your strengths (and your weaknesses)

For a lot of us right-brained people, the idea of a new challenge is thrilling. The chance to work on a new kind of project, or within a new medium, can be incredibly energizing and refreshing. The problem comes when that new challenge proves to be well outside the bounds of what is realistic for you. It’s easy to say yes to something with an “I’ll figure it out” mentality, not recognizing how time-consuming and difficult that project will be. As a brand builder, you must know your strengths, know your weaknesses, and know how far outside your wheelhouse you’re willing to step for a project. Maybe you’re a video production guru, but you’ve never worked with character animation. A client asks for a 60-second explainer video in which a cartoon man talks about a product. While this is possible, is it realistic? Will you really have the time to spend hours and hours watching YouTube tutorials about character animation, carry out the tedious work of doing the actual animation, and make the unavoidable rounds and rounds of revisions requested by the client? For most people, the answer to that question should be no. But, for a lot of us, we say yes out of excitement; we want a new challenge. While a new challenge can be good, it can also add unnecessary stress and burnout. Creatives need to know how to say no. The ability to say no (in a positive and constructive way) is an incredibly important still for brand builders, and it’s one that we need to strive for every day. Nine times out of ten, when you tell a client that a project is outside of your wheelhouse, they will be gracious and work with you to change the scope of the project and make it doable for you. Know your strengths and don’t be afraid to say no.

Keep developing your skills

Creatives only stay creative if they keep learning. Though it may seem like you’ve already learned everything you need to know to do your job well (after all, you’ve already established yourself as a brand builder and are churning out quality content consistently), the fact is that you can never learn too much about your craft. There is always more out there; always another level, a new skill, or a new technique to master. By watching YouTube videos, attending conferences, listening to podcasts (shameless plug for the Brand Nation podcast—drops every week on Tuesday), or enrolling in online master classes, you can learn from professionals who are much more experienced than you. By always following and being inspired by people who are better than you, you can ensure that you’re constantly striving to grow, always elevating your game, and always challenging yourself. Another great benefit of these methods of learning is the refreshing effect they can have for your creative soul. As we’ve already established, the life of a brand builder can be full of creative burnout, writer’s block, and frustration. By always seeking sources of inspiration and new challenges, you can confront these problems head-on. There is no better remedy for burnout than watching someone better than you (on YouTube or in person at a conference) do what you do in a fresh and innovative way. It can re-energize you, give you new ideas, and replenish your creative “health bar” considerably.

In addition to giving you a much-needed creative refresh, branching out and exploring every corner of your field can lead to meaningful connections with other professionals like you. By attending conferences, following other brand builders on social media, or networking on LinkedIn, you can grow your circle and meet inspiring people who can be of great use to you in the future. Maybe you need to outsource a project (possibly one that you recognize is outside of your wheelhouse; once again, that’s important!) and you remember that you have a connection on LinkedIn with someone who specializes in that type of work. Or perhaps you want someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to talk to about your creative burnout, or someone to attend conferences with! Networking is always helpful, and the connections you make throughout the process will serve you for years to come.

Self-Care and Work/Life Balance

For many brand builders (and creative people in general), inspiration strikes and suddenly there is nothing else that matters as much as that creative idea. You’re prepared to forsake all other responsibilities, any commitments, and your entire life outside of work in order to make that idea come to life. While this drive and determination comes in handy much of the time, it can also be extremely detrimental in different circumstances. Our team at Brand Nation is no exception! We understand the rush of adrenaline that comes with a great, creative idea, and the desire to drop everything until the work is finished. However, we have also gotten burned by that desire. For brand builders to be successful, they have to be balanced. Success doesn’t just mean success at work. It also means having a vibrant social life outside of work, prioritizing family and friend relationships, and indulging in hobbies and other enriching activities. Not only does having a full life outside of work help bring balance to the life of a creative, it also digs a brand new well of creativity that positively affects the work. Though it seems like a great idea should take precedence over other concerns, the fact is that family, relationships, and self-care should always be the top priority for brand builders. By building a healthy balance between work and personal life, creatives can ensure long-term satisfaction, better results at work, and a generally more positive and productive life.

Getting Sleep

Sleep, sleep, sleep. For us creative people, it is so easy to forsake it in order to meet a deadline, start flushing out an idea, or get a jump start on an upcoming project. “Sleep is for the weak,” right? Wrong. According to a 2017 study from the University of Haifa on the sleep patterns of creative people, “…among all the participants, the higher the level of visual creativity, the lower the quality of their sleep. This was manifested in such aspects as sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction… It is possible that a 'surplus' of visual creativity makes the individual more alert, and this could lead to sleep disturbances.” In essence, the more visually creative you are, the lower the quality of your sleep becomes. That discovery naturally led the researchers to this conclusion: creatives need more sleep than the average person. As brand builders, we tend to take the opposite approach. We can get caught up in the work and not want to stop for fear of “losing our inspiration.” We can see a good idea as something we must grasp onto before it slips away. This is not the way our brains actually work. As we have seen already, our brains benefit from sleep in a huge way. When we sleep long and well, we wake up refreshed, energized, and in a better position to execute a creative idea than if we stayed up until 4 a.m. trying to finish it. Sleep breeds creativity, and a creative that prioritizes it will always be more successful than one who doesn’t!

Hopefully these ideas have helped you out as you strive to become a better brand builder! If you want more great content geared toward creative people, check out our weekly podcast! In this week’s episode, we discuss these methods for becoming a better brand builder, as well as some others that are sure to benefit you! #TeamBrandNation

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