Just an a-ha moment thanks to a client… thought I’d share it (to mark it in my own mind and in case it helps anyone else facing down the daily-more-terrifying experience of expanding beyond an established, successful brand into unknown territory).

Bonnie Gillespie Moderating a Panel for the Television Academy, May 2005
Me, “hosting a dinner party” for the Television Academy in 2005, way before that was something I was less-than-terrified to do.

The client (a very successful actor in London) is shifting her brand and it’s all very exciting and deep and, of course, terrifying. I began talking about serving the existing buyers while inviting in the new ones like hosting a regular dinner party, and it’s not about about *stopping* serving what the regulars love or throwing out a wonderful, reliable menu.

It’s about incrementally serving a new dish, inviting a new guest, shifting toward the party you want to be throwing… knowing, yes, some of the old reliable attendees will stop coming, but that’s okay because they’re the outliers. Almost everyone at the party will keep showing up — unless you make the changes too jarring.

Of course, some brands can endure jarring shifts. It’s on-brand for them to do such things! 😉 And it always feels jarring WITHIN at times. But for most of us, when it comes to execution, it’s tiny little shifts that, over time, put us at the new party living the new normal with the new people we’ve invited in over time.

When I said the ever-reassuring, “I know… it’s terrifying…” my client said, “See, thing is, you keep telling us it’s terrifying but I’m not seeing you being terrified. It looks so normal and right and inviting the way you’re doing it.”

Lessons for me:
~ My constantly-terrified-of-this-growth resting state is NOT what anyone sees despite what my mirror and my journal and my in-house team meetings look like to me.
~ I am now done with talking about how terrifying *my* brand shift is in front of my clients. They’ve heard it. It’s becoming what they’re seeing about this. It’s the boring convo on repeat at the dinner party.
~ Framing the brand shift as a recurring dinner party with new guests and old — everyone gathered to enjoy what’s always been good while adding in new ingredients — feels really kind and welcoming and do-able and that’s framework I’m glad I shared with my client because it’s now gonna be how I see what we’re doing.

Rather than seeing it as this big, scary thing, it’s just another iteration of the party I’ve always been throwing. But with one thing different. And then another. Until it’s a totally different party. Later. 😉 But for now? It’s just one new thing each time.

Bonnie Gillespie autographed the internet


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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