That was a harsh title.
I felt MYSELF bristle as I wrote it.
The truth is, I’m writing this post just as much for myself as I am for anyone else who needs to read it right now. So please know…this lil’ bomb of tough love is meant with the best of intentions.
If you’re frustrated because you haven’t found your ‘special sauce’ yet, I have something to tell you:
Originality is a paradox.
If we have any hope of being original, we must first give up any hope of being original.
I think this is one of those things that we accept at face value, but insist on running round like crazed professors all the same…scrambling to figure out what makes us unequivocally different from everyone else.
We think we’ll find our ‘originality’ in our brands – as if there is some kind of magic formula that exists out there somewhere, that will make us appear revolutionary…even if really, we know we’re not.
This is fuel for the ‘I’m not expert enough’ curse. We know, deep down, that our ideas aren’t really all that original. We know that what we have to say has been said before. We know that there are already other people out there sharing OUR message – and doing it ten times better, with ten times a bigger audience.
It feels like a pretty hopeless situation.
So…we pin our hopes on the only thing we have: our brand. We set off in pursuit of making ourselves look – and sound – different.
Sometimes, we feel so desperate we’ll try anything to appear different, spending money we don’t have on a logo or website.
When we do manifest a ‘brand’, there is usually a disconnect. We feel…disconnected. From our work. From our business. From who we are.
But the issue is not the colours, or the fonts, or the photography.
The issue is that we haven’t yet accepted the following truth:
[Tweet “A brand is not a substitute for originality”]
What we are looking for in our brands does not exist. No matter how much we try to sugar-coat it, the truth is that our ideas are not entirely new.
It’s aaaaaallll been done before.
What we need is not to be more original – we just need to get over ourselves, and get on with what we need to do.
Every time we feel comparisonitis creeping in, we have to put the blinkers on. Focus on what is in front of us, safe in the knowledge that that person we’re comparing ourselves to? They’re not original, either.
Stressing about being ‘the original’ is steeped in lack and fear, and creativity has no chance of survival in such an environment.
The ONLY way your true originality will shine is when you stop looking for it.
And get over yourself.