5 Things Bodybuilding Can Teach Us About Branding
I am not an elite athlete by any means. In fact, I got cut from middle school basketball team tryouts when I threw a layup attempt over the backboard. If you think things have changed as I've grown older, they haven't. I almost fell off of a treadmill last week, and I decided to blame it on the weather. That being said, I have taken it upon myself to get more fit over the past year or so. Like many things in life, improving your fitness takes time, commitment, and a plan. I had to commit to being consistent in the gym. In order to ensure that my results were targeted, I took it upon myself to learn more about the science behind bodybuilding.
Why not learn from the best?
As I’ve continued to build brands and become a somewhat consistent member of the “morning gym” club, I’ve noticed that there are actually a few key similarities between bodybuilding and social media branding. Both of these processes may seem arduous, uncomfortable, and unattainable without understanding how to prioritize.
Let’s talk about how you are going to beat the odds.
1. Many people want exceptional results. Few are willing to make the sacrifices required.
Have you ever seen someone walking around with an exceptional physique, and wished that you too could look like a real life action figure? Well, the thing is, you most likely can. It simply requires sacrifices you might not be willing to make. Early morning workouts. Extremely strict dieting. Multiple rigorous workouts every day. Forcing yourself to sleep eight hours a day. These habits are not for the faint of heart. People don’t always understand how much goes into the perfect beach body until try to build it.
In the same token, getting paid to post on social media or show up to an event sounds like a dream job. In a sense, it might be. However, it’s easy to neglect the many hours that influencers put into building the brands that get them paid over and over again. Hours upon hours of planning content strategy, then reassessing when plans don’t work. Constantly pitching different companies just to get one foot in the door. Finding ways to pay videographers, photographers, copywriters, and other experts to bring your ideas to life. It’s not as simple as it looks. You ready to sacrifice?
For examples of sacrifice and perseverance, I highly recommend Marc Ecko’s Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out . This book is wonderfully honest and irreverent, and offers some applicable, real life examples of how he beat the odds and overcame setbacks to create a multimillion dollar empire with Ecko Unltd and Complex Media Network. Additionally, look into Open Express's "14-Step Roadmap To Becoming An Influencer” to learn key steps to becoming more influential within your target market.
Take action right now. Think about three things you can do every day to increase the utility that your brand provides to your audience. Join Coach.Me. It's an app that can be downloaded onto any smart phone or device for free that will allow you to track your dedication to the habits you selected in real time. Accountability is key. Click here to join.
"Consistent, misguided efforts will consistently take you somewhere other than where you want to go."
2. Studying your craft is just as important as taking action.
If you’ve ever gone to a gym in early January, you’ve probably laughed at some of the foolish antics enacted by people who are determined to meet their newly set New Year’s fitness resolutions. If you’re the person who tried box jumps for the first time and ended up landing face first, I’m sorry for laughing at you. It’s admirable that people are willing to get back in the gym after a long hiatus, but if they don’t learn how to pace themselves and use safe technique, they’re likely to flame out or get injured. Having a can-do spirit is key, but so is taking the time to understand how to accomplish what you’re setting out to do.
In regards to branding, enthusiasm and passion will only take you so far. Consistent, misguided efforts will consistently take you somewhere other than where you want to go. Take the time to learn about the field you’re entering, stay up on social media trends, and most importantly, hold yourself accountable. You are the person who will ensure that every detail within your brand is accounted for. If you don’t start to study your craft, you’re bound to experience a number of preventable setbacks.
Actively seek out mentors within your field who can offer you specific guidance as you progress. Research those who have already achieved particular facets of the success you seek, and learn about the principles that worked for them. It's impossible to replicate someone's success, but it is very feasible to learn from their stories and techniques. Follow outlets such as Mashable, Social Media Today, and Digital Trends to stay up to date on social media trends in general, and learn how you can capitalize on them for yourself.
Take action right now. Find at least two media outlets that focus on social media trends and speak to your perspective. Follow them on social media and subscribe to their e-mail newsletter. I recommend signing up for Mashable's newsletter here, for starters. When you receive the first newsletter from each outlet that you select, add the e-mail address so that future e-mails don't go to spam.
3. You need to have the patience to work consistently before seeing results.
If you think that you can walk in the gym and go from beer belly to six pack in 45 minutes, you need to reassess your life. You need to develop a routine and put in work for weeks, if not months, before you’ll be able to see visible results from starting a new workout regimen. The first few weeks might require you to simply focus on building muscle memory and learning correct form, before you even feel yourself start to get stronger. That being said, nothing beats the thrill of seeing your work pay off.
It would be equally unrealistic to expect a brand you start to be instantly successful. Ideally, you need to build a well thought out identity and social strategy before you even start. If you’ve already started, you need to continue to polish and refine your brand based on what works. Even with a thoroughly polished brand identity, great connections, and well planned social strategy, it’s important to remain patient and not try to force things as you progress. Don’t play yourself by swinging for the fences every day and missing, when you could be steadily building towards your goals.
Telling yourself to be patient is one thing, but entrepreneurism is bound to have its ups and downs. It's key to continue to fill your mind with perspectives that help you to maintain your confidence as you execute your long term plan. Consider reading “5 Powerful Ways Leaders Practice Patience” via Forbes, in order to get a feel for how you can remain patient, even when having to deal with an array of emotions from the people around you. In order to get a deeper feel for how the principle of patience will help you, read about “8 Ways Patience Radically Increases Your Capacity For Success” via Entrepreneur.
Take action right now. Pick a time of day when things are relatively calm. Set a recurring alarm or calendar reminder for that time. Make sure to pick one of the more peaceful sounds on your phone so that you don't jump when it goes off. Every day, when that reminder goes off, stop whatever you're doing and take at least thirty seconds to dwell on something that you're authentically thankful for. Allow yourself the time to focus on the positive so that you can better deal with the other emotions that will inevitably come your way.
4. It’s absolutely essential to evaluate your progress the right way.
If you’re an advocate of people watching in the gym, you’re likely to see some interesting exercise techniques. There’s the guy in the brightly colored tank top bouncing the bar off his chest on bench press. There’s the elderly person flailing about wildly on the elliptical, with Bon Jovi blasting from their headphones. There’s the young lady throwing her entire body into “bicep curls.” The list goes on. What do these techniques have in common? They don’t achieve the desired results, but might lead you to think that you’re stronger or more fit than you are. They can also get you hurt.
In the same token, using the wrong “form” and evaluating your brand’s progression based on unimportant or superfluous metrics is a waste of time, energy, and resources. Purchasing followers, mass DMing, and excessive hash-tagging are examples of poor techniques that may yield some sort of result, but are poor choices for strategy that will likely hurt your brand in the long run. Take the time to learn proven strategies, and fit them to the unique parameters of your brand so that you can see the authentic bottom line results that you need.
You're bound to experience difficulties and growing pains as you continue to learn your best practices. Thankfully, you don't have to do all the guesswork and experimentation for yourself. Learn some of the things not to do by reading The Huffington Post's article on “7 Social Media Mistakes You Don’t Know That You’re Making."
Take action right now. Get a better feel for how to accurately measure your growth with Hootsuite's "7 Social Media Metrics That Matter - And How To Measure Them" by clicking here. Figure out the best time of week for you to track and analyze these metrics. Set aside a 30 minute block and make a repeat weekly appointment in your calendar for that specific time.
5. You have to believe in yourself enough to see it through.
It’s a bit absurd to believe you can become a successful bodybuilder, if you expect “typical” results. You cannot compare your expectations for yourself to that of the average person, or even the average gym goer. A successful bodybuilder has to achieve a physique that is in the top .001% of human population. It’s not impossible, but it does require years and years of hard work and dedication. It’s doable, but you need to be dedicated to perfecting the process.
Believing that you can create a brand that impacts thousands or millions of people for the better isn’t “normal.” Believing that you can create a brand that enables you to live your dream life isn’t “typical.” A relatively small number of those people will achieve these goals. That doesn’t mean that these goals are unachievable. It simply means that you’ll need to believe in yourself to do the things that most people will not do. You’ll need to be more dedicated. You’ll need to be more consistent. You have to believe in yourself enough to see it through, no matter what.
Attitudes are infectious, and listening to the conviction held by other people can be a way to recharge your mind and re-center your thoughts. If you haven't seen Will Smith talk about the power of self belief before, I highly encourage you to watch this video immediately. Get more perspective on just much you can change through your thought process by reading “The Incredible Power of Self Belief” via Entrepreneur.com.