Diluting your message just makes it suck.

December 16, 2017

(or "what I really wanted to do with my life")

You probably didn't know this about me, but I didn't always want to be a designer. When I was a little girl, what I wanted to be more than anything was one of the Heritage Singers. Now, that's pretty specific to the subculture I grew up in, and my tastes have changed a lot. (Can you see me in there? HAHAHA.) But I still love to sing.

So the other day I was part of a group that went Christmas caroling at a local hospital. Arrangements had been made, we had a time slot and a spot in an open area that overlooked the lobby, and there we were, milling around and feeling really awkward. But we went for it, and the longer we went on, the better it felt. Pretty soon we had people looking up from the lobby and lining the railing on the floor above us to listen.

Here's what I noticed though: we all started out sounding pretty tentative. But you can't sing like that. You do it because you're afraid you'll sound bad, so you hold back and keep quiet - but holding back pretty much guarantees that you'll sound bad. Committing to the note, supporting it with your whole breath & body, and putting it all the way out there is the only way you're going to get a sound that isn't just squeaky, wavering, and weak.

Holding back pretty much guarantees that you'll sound bad.

You've already guessed where I'm going with this, right? That's how it is with your brand communications. The words, the visuals, the attitude...it all has to come from a space of commitment. You've decided who you are and what you have to say, and you don't hold back. You aren't tentative. You just put it out there with everything you've got, so no matter what happens, you sound like you. That's where the magic is.

Diluting your message just makes it suck.

So what about my singing adventure? It felt amazing, honestly. Not all of us ever got out of that tentative space, but I did. You could definitely hear me. I got a lot of compliments afterward, and to be honest, that part felt a lot more vulnerable and scary than the actual singing did. But that's a story for another day.

For now, what I hope you'll take away is this:

  1. Say what you're going to say without toning anything down. Diluting your message just makes it suck. (For help getting started on what that message looks & feels like, start here.)
  2. Surrounding yourself with other people who are also unabashedly saying their thing helps a lot. Find a community. I like this one.
  3. You sound great. You are great.

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