Although I titled this “Balancing Your BRAND And Your Life” it can also apply to all you indie bloggers and t-shirt reviewers out there. After all, building a successful blog is similar to building a successful brand, both of them involve a lot of time and effort that almost inevitably leads to stress affecting more of your life than just the portion devoted to your online endeavor. I have been pushing Sugar Steak for about a year now, and yes I say “pushing” because my brand has become like a drug, I’m addicted to it, and sometimes that does more harm than good. I’m sure all indie brand owners and bloggers can relate to this feeling at some time or another. Spending way too much time thinking about your brand, what you’d like to do with it, ways to build your social networks, ideas to spark some more sales, and so on. It’s awesome to have passion for your brand and always be thinking of ways to improve, but sometimes you’ve got to take a step back in order to avoid burnout, jolt some creativity, and ultimately make better decisions. Below I’ve tossed together a few things that contribute to what I’m calling “obsessive brand disorder” and ways we can stay passionate without driving ourselves insane.
SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME ONLINE
Yes, we run online businesses, therefore much of our time will be devoted to emails, site changes, blogs, social networking, etc… But when is it too much? I’m not going to lie, I check the admin portion of my site multiple times a day, I take care of new orders, I monitor site traffic, I trackback links to see who’s posting what about my brand, I check what discount codes are being used, what shirts are viewed most; all important aspects to running an online store. But multiple times a day? C’mon Kyle, what’s the point? Most of the time there is very little change from the last time I checked, aside from the times when a new article went live or a new post spurred some attention. The fact is, we all do this, and while checking once or twice daily is important, checking every few hours is only setting yourself up for disappointment. If you don’t see the changes you have imagined will be there, you’re just going to be bummed. Which is why I suggest limiting the amount of time you spend checking the admin portion of your site, your retweets on twitter, your new fans on facebook, and all of the other stuff we as indie brand owners spend way too much time thinking about.
ALWAYS COMPARING YOUR BRAND TO OTHERS
It’s important to gauge your competition in an industry as cutthroat as clothing, you can learn valuable info from others successes and failures, and we all keep tabs on each other whether we admit it or not. We follow each other on twitter, we read articles posted on blogs, we check out our competitors’ new releases and sales, and that’s totally fine and dandy. If you didn’t do any of that you’d be a lazy and stupid brand owner. What we shouldn’t do is compare ourselves to other brands too often, especially those not even targeting the same demographic of customer. I’d be stupid to compare my brand to say, Electric Zombie, props to Kyle though for having an awesome first name and a stellar brand. Sure some customers might be down to rock gruesome eyeball tees and at the same time kick it with a tee featuring a sweet piece of meat, I’m one of those people. But I would never gauge anything I’m doing off of a brand like that, not only is he light-years ahead of me in terms of brand recognition and prestige, but for the most part we target very different customers. If I was to always be comparing Sugar Steak with the brands I thought were awesome and established, I would find myself disappointed a majority of the time. Those brands paid their dues and now they are reaping the success. Don’t spend time comparing yourself to others too often, let your brand grow at its own pace, do what you can to push growth to happen more quickly, but don’t beat yourself up over it.
TOO MUCH TECHNOLOGY
I saved this one for last, because for me, having a smartphone is a blessing and a curse. If I didn’t always have my phone on me I could spend a lot more time chilling and not worrying about The Steak and what’s going on. I have even refrained from adding apps for my social networks just so I’m not so tempted to check ’em all the time. And yes, it’s awesome being able to answer emails on the spot, get in touch with customers as soon as they ask questions, and stay up-to-date on every little thing that goes down on my social networks. But it gets very distracting at times. I just recently removed all but one of my email accounts from my phone, and I have to say, it was a genius decision. So now instead of answering back emails on the spot when I’m out at dinner or in the middle of a movie, I check those other email accounts daily and take care of business then. The majority of the people that hit me up for time-sensitive material have the email that still goes directly to my phone, which is important, but I no longer have multiple emails hitting up the blackberry every twenty minutes. Nobody is going to think you have poor customer service because you didn’t answer back within ten minutes, and if they do then you have some pretty anal customers and I feel sorry for you. I know all of us brand owners and bloggers have more than one email account, and I strongly suggest only choosing one of those bad boys to keep on your smartphone device. Try it for a week, if it doesn’t feel less stressful I will eat my words, but trust me, it will.
“Stay passionate about your brand and always look for ways to improve, but live your life. Make time for other things, becoming too obsessive with your brand will only lead to brand burnout, lack of creativity, and desperate decision making.”