I am a moderately serious runner with very mediocre skills. I am never going to outrun someone. I run to clear my head, to give me time to think and plan, to stay fit, and to avoid weight gain (ok – that should have been number one!).
In the past I have joked to friends that I go through five emotional stages before every long run:
- Avoidance – I don’t want to break away from what I am doing to enter into this demanding process. I start to look for appropriate yet believable excuses for why I don’t need to do it.
- Commitment – I have started the process, and I am in to it. I realize it will take concentration, focus and a solid effort to get what I want from this run, and now that I have begun, I am committed emotionally to getting the most out of the activity.
- Determination – At times during the course of the run I feel tired or distracted or I simply want to find a way to stop – it’s not my day, I don’t need to finish it, I can try again tomorrow. That’s when I need determination to ensure that I finish.
- Relief – At the end I am happy I achieved what I set out to do and I am relieved that it is done. I realize the activity was nowhere near as difficult or as taxing as I led myself to believe before I started and I am proud of myself for sticking with it to the end.
- Feeling the benefits – That night, and the next few days, I feel stronger, my breathing is easier and I feel I can take on the world. The process has made me feel good, but the outcome of the process has also made me better – giving me a chance to contribute and compete in the real world.
As I was working on a client’s Brand Plan last weekend, I was reflecting on these five emotional stages of running and realized that they were not unlike the stages a business might go through when contemplating, and ultimately entering into the Brand Development process.
There is no doubt there is anxiety about planning, and in many situations, individuals within a company may not even see the benefit of doing a Brand Audit in the first place (not unlike my friends who to this day still do not understand why anyone would put on shorts and run somewhere that they can get to by car!). The process can be frustrating as well, as the discussions on where the Brand should go sometimes reveal touchy subjects.
But, done properly, the outcome is rewarding, and there is inevitably a sense of relief from all those that participated. And in the long run (sorry – pun intended) the benefits of developing and managing a relevant Brand in your industry will far outweigh the anxiety you felt at the start.
So I recommend that you get past Avoidance and into the Commitment stage of your Brand Planning process. The results will be worth it!