Good Question: How can I create a clear “brand” and “message” when I love to do so many different things?

Dear Alex,

I’m feeling lost.

I’ve poured years of my life into building a business that (I thought) would be a success.

I’m doing fine, but not as “fine” as I’d like.

It feels like squeezing water out of a stone every time I launch a product. I pour my heart and soul into the process, but nobody bites. I literally had ZERO sign ups after my last product announcement. Not fun.

After some reflection, I think I’ve diagnosed the problem. I’m trying to be and do too many things, at once. My message is scattered. My offerings are all over the place. I don’t even have a clear “job title”. No wonder people aren’t buying.

I know that I need to make some changes, but I’m not sure where to begin.

My question for you is:

How can I create a clear “brand” and “message”, when I love to do so many different things?

–[Please Don’t Use My Name]

Dear Lovely Anonymous Person,

I have a strong opinion about your conundrum. And my opinion may be… an unpopular one.

You asked:

How can I create a clear “brand” and “message”, when I love to do so many different things?

My answer is:

You can’t.

Clarity — by its very definition — requires sharpness, crispness and distillation. It requires subtraction, not addition.

If you want to have a clear brand and message — one that people can immediately grasp & get excited about — then you have to make some tough choices.

You have to commit to a particular path, and keep marching. You have to focus your energy. You have to do less and do it better.

In the historic speech that transformed our world forever, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. cries out, “I have a dream…” not “I have LOTS of dreams and let me tell you about ALL of them, right now!”

To communicate powerfully — and resonate deeply — you must exercise some constraint.

But… exercising constraint doesn’t mean that you are trapped in a tight little box for the rest of your life.

Picasso had his Blue Period, then his Rose Period, then his Cubism Period.

You can evolve through several iterations of your work, too.

But whatever period you’re in, right now? Be fully in that period.

Choose a dream. Choose a topic. Choose a job title. Choose a message. Commit.

“You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.” ―Fred Rogers

“One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something.” –Henry David Thoreau

“Creativity is subtraction.” –Austin Kleon

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” –Alexander Graham Bell

“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” ―Oprah Winfrey

Constraint is not a cage.

Ironically, it is the opposite.

Constraint is the choice… that will set your best work free.

Good Question is an advice column about writing, communication, creativity, and how to be a decent human being in a complicated world. Looking for past columns? Go here.