Your brand has a story. Tell it.
This is ours (at least half anyway).
February 1, 2015, 11:11 am. It was snowing. A lot.
In fact this was the worst blizzard Chicago had seen in years. Officially the 5th largest on record. Later to become known as Super Bowl Blizzard falling on the nation’s hugely popular Super Bowl Sunday. To me it was just another Sunday when the snow began to fall. I had no idea what was about to hit.
They were meddlers. The snowflakes. Their beguiling visages turned to unwelcome busybodies. Angry fists pounding insistently at my door reminding me I hadn’t bought the snowblower I had planned since last winter and I was alone with my two small children for the weekend. Better get moving.
Trying to cheerfully distract my ten and twelve year olds from their Lego sets, Nerf guns, and tedious episodes of Sponge Bob, I grabbed three shovels and headed outside with the promise of a fun game of ‘Who can clear the driveway the fastest?’. This perhaps was one of my worst ideas of the year but the year had only begun so I figured it couldn’t be that bad.
My salesmanship prevailed and they stormed out of the house with the vim of bouncy bunnies on a bright spring day. Disillusionment came swiftly. Their sunny optimism gave way to icy tears and frozen fingers immobilized by the cold. I had also neglected to buy the North Face gloves I had seen at Dick’s Sporting Goods guaranteed to protect even the boldest mountain climber on a daring ascent to Everest. The cheap Target knock-offs proved yet another bad idea. Into the house they went. Back to shoveling I went. This time alone.
Over the next two days I shoveled. A lot.
The blizzard had subsided but the snow continued to fall. My husband was snowbound in another state and the city plows hadn’t yet come. They were preoccupied with more important main streets and lucky residents not living in a court like mine. Despite all my efforts after two days the driveway was finally cleared but the roads were not. We were officially snowed in. Luckily I had plenty of boxed mac and cheese. The bright side I told myself.
In truth, I was tired. I had literally been digging myself out of a blizzard. My back ached, my fingers chafed, my cheeks a stinging red - but the metaphor of it all hadn’t struck me yet. Ironic since I had been a writer in my previous life and still dusted off my writer self from time to time with the occasional free-lance gig.
Housebound, I mindlessly flipped through holiday cards that had been piling up in a tiny basket in my kitchen I had neglected to throw out since Christmas. And then one caught my eye. Bright colors, an urban backdrop, a modern-edgy, happy Christmas card. It was irresistible. I couldn’t put it down. It had a life and a story onto its own. This little card had somehow snapped me out of my stir-crazed blizzard malaise. It was Stacy’s. I remembered Stacy my friend down the street had her own design business and I thought she must have designed this herself for her family. Moved by the Christmas purity of her card I have to admit I felt two things in that moment. Admiration and envy.
My previous life I had been a successful Global Brand Director to one of the world’s most recognized brands. Before that an accomplished Marketing Executive. And before that a notable writer for a fledgling publishing company. Writing and storytelling had always been my passions and I had always found a way to make a career out of them. But with the birth of my children they had taken a back seat. A seat so far in the back I wondered if there was even room for me anymore.
And that's when the metaphor hit me. A voice out of nowhere clear as my freshly shoveled driveway.
“Dig. Yourself. Out.”
I had been digging for days. Literally. But what was I digging myself out of exactly? I looked around to see if my children now scampering about the house in their PJ’s dodging Nerf bullets, the idea of getting dressed entirely bereft of meaning since we couldn’t go anywhere anyway, had heard it too. Nope. Just me. It was my voice, talking to me. And I was listening. Intently. All that digging had been the physical accelerant to what I was digging for - my authentic self - the same authentic self I saw in Stacy’s card. The self Stacy had used to create her own business.
The next day I sprung into action. I wanted to get back to what I loved to do. Back to the stuff my authentic self had been missing. So I called Stacy. I had a plan. A business I wanted to start. I even had a name - Simply Put. I would use my skills as a writer and Brand Strategist to help other businesses tell their stories. I asked Stacy to design my brand. I would have my own business too.
Miraculously it worked.
Over the next two years I reached out to old colleagues, fostered new partnerships and collaborated with Stacy whenever we could. I worked with start-up businesses, businesses who had stalled, businesses who had succeeded but were ready to go further. I was telling their authentic stories and by doing so bringing them success and purpose. My work was winning awards and recognition but something was missing…a partner.
I thought back to the two years before when the roads finally cleared and how I went into feverish pursuit of my authentic self and how Stacy had been my catalyst for change. I was the architect. She the designer. We worked in perfect unison. So why not work on our own business together?
That’s when we Kliqued - pooling our talents and our authentic selves to form Klique Creative - a brand boutique that helps businesses stand out and stand for something. After all, an authentic story always makes you better, in business and in life.
Just ask any of our clients. Telling their stories has helped them achieve success and a deeper level of purpose. All they needed was the courage to uncover it. Just like I did. Just like Stacy. If I learned one thing in the Super Bowl Blizzard of 2015 is that it's worth the dig. Your authentic self is under there - waiting.