What does your spiritual practice feel like? How can you best conceptualize it? What symbols, colours, shapes, patterns or scents come to your mind when you think about it? Which single phrase captures the essence of what you do? In other words, what is your brand? Like it or not, brands have become a fundamental facet of our everyday reality, and anyone seeking to practice business to make a substantial contribution to society, has to find a way to present his/her ideas in an appealing way.
Unfortunately, brands and labels are looked down upon in the spiritual community on the pretext that they are not spiritual, casted away as evil progenies of the ego. I have come across spiritual masters with life-changing teachings who shy away from putting themselves out there, fearing that commercializing their wisdom will take away its authenticity. Being spiritual and yet a fan of branding and image-making, I’ve always been rifted between the two practices, eagerly seeking for a more nuanced and balanced perspective to accommodate my seemingly opposing beliefs.
Inner Guide Vs. Ego
“The ego and the ~ing (Inner Guide) are working together. The ego may be saying ‘I’m gonna receive my ~ing because my teacher looks like me,” and this is OK as long as you are getting the information. It’s OK if the information comes in a form that you can relate to, because you are here as a learner, and if you need the body (ego) to get the experience, then that’s OK.”
This powerful statement by Gabrielle Bernstein came as the perfect response to my inquiry. According to Gabrielle, it’s OK to use our ego as an instrument of teaching a message of love. There are hundreds of spiritual teachers out there, all teaching the exact same message in a variety of ways, in resonance to the variety of people and their diverse ways of understanding reality.
As long as our purpose, focus, and the message we seek to teach are rooted in love, we can use branding and marketing as tools to help communicate our message more intently, and to a larger audience. The key lies in distinguishing whether our branding strategy is inspired from a place or love, therefore, our Inner Guide, or from a place of fear, therefore, our ego.
Spiritual branding strikes a balance between conventional marketing and spiritual truth, to guide spiritual entrepreneurs into branding their practice in an authentic way. Through the process of Spiritual Branding we relinquish the influence of the ego, and invite our Inner Guide to take lead, to inspire the best way for us to reach those who are ready to receive the message we have to teach.
- Pray. Step one invites you to hit your knees and ask for guidance in crafting a heart-driven, and truthful branding strategy. The power of prayer lies in surrendering your request to the care of Love, and trusting that the necessary guidance will be provided. I’m a strong supporter of getting on your knees to pray, as the act of submitting the ego’s most emblematic tool, the physical body, to the ground, is symbolic of casting away the ego’s influence and inviting the Inner Guide to take over.
- Meditate. A Course In Miracles states that, in prayer we ask and in meditation we receive. Following your prayer, find a quiet space where you can sit in meditation for at least 15 minutes. Ask your Inner Guide to show you your spiritual practice in an energetic form. This may appear in the form of colours, patterns, vibration, or simply emotion.
- Bask. This is the most important step of the process. Having acquainted yourself with the energetic signature of your spiritual practice, mentally surround yourself in its energy and bask in the feeling of empowerment that must come as a result. Let the energy cleanse away all your fears and negativity, and inspire you with symbols, colours, feelings and ideas.
Having bathed in the energy of your spiritual practice, you are now in an inspired position to formulate your experience into words. Brand positioning, is about coming up with a set of engaging brand messages that will form the basis of your brand image. Two months ago, I was fortunate enough to participate in a Brand Positioning workshop with brand consultant Max Du Bois, during which I was introduced to his brand positioning model, which I find to resonate well with spiritual values.
Immediately after your meditation, take pen and paper and answer the following questions. Take your time to answer each question thoroughly, and then try to come up with a short and catchy sentence for each one, to best encapsulate your full response.
What we do
Scope: What area of activity are we in?
Status: What status do we want to achieve?
Why we do it
Ambition: What is our heart-felt ambition?
Ethos: What are the principles behind our actions?
How we do it
Style: How do we go about our business?
Response: What impression do we want to create?
The significance of brand positioning lies in finding a direction for your brand. Once you feel confident with your brand positioning messages, use them to formulate the brand elements that will define your brand image. These could include, your business’ name, logo, tagline, symbols, colours, graphics, scents, sounds, and movements. If at any time you find yourself feeling blocked or uninspired, repeat steps two and three to re-establish your alignment with the energy of your practice.
Spiritual Branding is a dynamic and never-ending process during which you maintain an authentic connection with your spiritual practice. In doing so, you ensure that your practice is branded after your personal and spiritual values and not the other way around, so that it forms an extension and contribution of who you are, to the world.