Life is full of mysteries, but your business’s identity should not be one of them.
Are you feeling disconnected with your business, employees or your clients?
Do you go to work each day and feel unfulfilled?
When you talk about your business, do you emotionally get upset, stressed or depressed?
Are you unsure where your business is headed?
Are you unsure how to succinctly explain what your business does in one short sentence?
Does your business feel out of control?
Are you attracting the wrong clients?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your business may be experiencing an identity crisis, and it’s one of the most important conflicts you’ll face with your business. But don’t worry, this is normal; every business goes through a stage of having an identity crisis, sometimes more than once. What’s most important is that you address the issue. If you don’t, that identity crisis will more than likely continue to challenge you throughout the lifespan of your business.
Often, businesses identify with the outer physical aspects of their business — appearance, relationships, performance, products or services. When you identify your business with physical attributes, your business experiences a misalignment when one of these are removed or dramatically impacted.
It’s like the shell of an egg breaking open; the shell merely gives form to your business so you can identify what it is. But once you remove the shell, your form changes.
The outer physical aspects of your business are not meant to create your identity. It’s your internal beliefs, core values and purpose that create your true identity.
When you base your business’s identity around something deeper than physical attributes, it creates clarity, focus, reason, drive, passion and your “why”— and that becomes the life-force behind your business. It’s like a lake during a storm: the surface is turbulent, rough and wavy, yet underneath this chaos, it’s calm, steady and true.
Understanding what brand is and how to leverage it is key. Your brand is the perception others have of you based on the experiences you create for them, so the ramifications of your identity misalignment may not be noticeable right away. Over time, however, the misalignment becomes destructive and evident in every aspect of your business. By this time, it goes as deep as your company culture and even your leadership team. You have a lot of hard work and hard choices to make in order to even begin moving forward. And, it will take a commitment, persistence and effort to overcome your business identity crisis.
As your business evolves, it goes through business stages and each stage builds on the previous creating your foundation for future years. At each stage, there are experiences that have challenges, conflicts and decisions that have to be made. Each one of these experiences starts to create your business’s brand. As your business evolves, your brand may be in one of these phases:
- Brand Realization — When a business has gone through an exploration of different identities aligned with core values, purpose and beliefs for their brand and has made a commitment to one.
- Brand Flux — When a business is actively involved in ongoing exploration of different identities but has not made a commitment to one.
- Brand Impersonator — When a business has made a commitment to an identity without attempting deep identity exploration around core values, purpose and beliefs.
- Brand Limbo — When a business has no true identity or commitment.
The balance between having identity or having identity confusion lies in making a commitment to an identity based on beliefs, core values and purpose versus physical attributes.
Companies with a status of identity diffusion tend to feel out of place in the world and don’t pursue a sense of their true potential. Businesses that have made a strong commitment to their brand tend to have a happier, focused and resounding cultural energy, and in general are a healthier business than those that have not made a commitment.
“Your purpose is your identity; focus your energy on great purposes.”
― Amit Ray