What is your story?
You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. - Steve Jobs
Your story is a powerful tool for uncovering your Ikigai, your reason for being. Comprehending your unique journey, the ups and downs, the successes and failures, can provide invaluable insight into what truly drives you. Often, our stories reveal patterns and themes which can guide us toward our passions ('what we love'). They showcase our resilience, highlighting the challenges we conquered, giving hints to our innate talents ('what we're good at'). Moreover, our choices and initiatives can give indications of our desires to contribute to a larger cause or fill specific gaps in the world ('what the world needs').
Furthermore, our story can uncover our potential and the value we bring to the table, which can be translated into earning potential ('what we can be paid for'). Your story is not just a chronicle of your past; it's a guiding compass pointing you towards determining your Ikigai, a blueprint of your present and future self.
As you cultivate the understanding of your story, practicing self-reflection, and introspection, you're taking the vital steps to discovering your Ikigai, setting on a path to living a fulfilling and purposeful life.
Ikigai, the Japanese principle denoting "a reason for being," consists of four major elements: passion (what you love), mission (world needs), vocation (your strengths/what you’re good at), and profession (what you can be paid for). By embracing these principles, your business can cultivate passionate consumer connections and drive massive growth.
Element 1: Passion (what you love)
The power of passion cannot be underestimated in branding. For instance, Nike's dynamic "Just Do It" campaign is not just about selling athletic wear—it's about inspiring the latent athlete within each of us.
As Steve Jobs once said,
People with passion can change the world.
Creating a passion-driven brand is a powerful method to convey values, stir emotions and start a conversation with your audience.
Understanding what your brand loves to do could be the first step towards finding your Ikigai. This generates an authentic enthusiasm that attracts consumers. Ben & Jerry's love for creative, high-quality ice cream flavours and commitment to social causes are embodied in their supportive campaigns, leading to a loyal customer base.
Questions to ask oneself: What do you love about your brand? What part of your brand evokes joy and passion?
Element 2: Mission (world needs)
Identifying what your target audience needs can inform your product development and marketing strategies. TOMS shoes, recognizing the need for footwear in many impoverished areas, pledged that for every pair sold, they would donate a pair to a child in need. This need-targeted approach led to a considerable 30% increase in their sales.
Brand mission refers to the purpose and the intended impact a brand will create. Patagonia, the outdoor clothing brand, has a clearly defined mission: to manufacture high-quality products while minimizing environmental harm. Due to this, they have witnessed a customer loyalty rate of 79 percent.
Questions to ask oneself: What does your audience need? How does your brand meet these needs?
Element 3: Vocation (your strengths/what you’re good at)
Recognizing what your business excels at ensure you stay relevant amongst competitors. Amazon has continually dominated the online retail industry by fine-tuning its ability to provide diverse products and convenient two-day shipping for Prime members, leading to it becoming a trillion-dollar company.
Where passion meets profession, therein nestles vocation. A successful brand capitalizes its unique sets of skills. The case study of Apple—an industry titan—is a paramount example. Their unique intersection between technology and design led to Apple's worldwide brand recognition.
Questions to ask oneself: What does your brand excel at? What makes your brand stand out from the rest?
Element 4: Profession (what you can be paid for)
Ensuring your brand provides a product or service consumers are willing to pay for is vital in achieving Ikigai. For instance, Tesla excels with an eco-conscious business model targeting luxury electric vehicle market, demonstrating a product price consumers are willing to pay, resulting in their net worth skyrocketing to $144 billion in 2020.
A commitment to professional growth ensures the longevity of a brand. This is powerfully illustrated by Google's strategy that encourages employees to devote 20 percent of their time to personal projects. As a result, Gmail and AdSense arose out of these side projects and has maintained its dominant status, proving that professional development and employee satisfaction directly contribute to a brand's success.
Questions to ask oneself: What are consumers willing to pay for? Does your brand offer a product or service aligning with consumer's monetary values?
Marketing Your Ikigai
Marketing your Ikigai in branding exhibits authenticity and showcases a sense of purpose behind your endeavor. It demonstrates to your audience the "why" behind what you do, creating a personal connection and enhancing brand trust.
A real-life example of this is the TOMS Shoes brand. The founder, Blake Mycoskie, found his Ikigai in providing shoes for underprivileged children. With every pair of TOMS purchased, a new pair is donated to a child in need. This "One for One" approach is not merely a marketing strategy; it's Mycoskie's Ikigai. He believes in contributing to the world and his community, which is what he's good at and what he loves. As a result, TOMS has been wildly successful, and it reinforces the power of Ikigai in branding.
Apple Inc. is also a notable example. Steve Jobs found his Ikigai at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. He aimed to make technology accessible and aesthetically pleasing to every person. His purpose and vision were instrumental in the Apple brand, which transcended beyond just being a tech company to becoming a lifestyle and status symbol.
Another example is Patagonia, the outdoor clothing brand. The founder, Yvon Chouinard, designed his business around an ecological philosophy - to create minimal environmental impact. His Ikigai encompassed his love for nature, his talent for creating outdoor gear and clothes, what he could be paid for, and his belief that the world needed sustainable alternatives for outdoor wear.
When you market your Ikigai in branding, you personify your company, making it relatable and inspiring. People are more inclined to engage with a brand that stands for a purpose beyond profit. Therefore, taking the time to identify and incorporate your Ikigai into your brand is an investment that will harvest trust, loyalty, and ultimately, success.
Benefits & Case Studies:
Patagonia's approach to ethical sustainability has allowed them to tap into a tuned-in audience base. They have seen growth in customer engagement rates by 45 percent and outpaced the expansion of many competitors.
Apple, through its intense drive for innovation and values marketing (through think different campaigns) and world-class user experience, turned itself into a global household name, with a brand value of $263.4 billion in 2020.
Ben & Jerry's commitment to passion-driven branding resulted in a 12% increase in consumer engagement.
TOMS Shoes, with its need-based brand ideology, saw a drastic increase in brand recognition and customer loyalty.
Conclusion to Fulfilling Your Life’s Mission:
Integrating Ikigai into your life and brand strategy can result in extensive rewards. By ensuring love, need, worth, and ability are at the forefront of your branding, businesses can create a robust brand identity that inspires allegiance from consumers, resulting in substantial business growth.
To be living in Ikigai through your brand can be one of the most gratifying feelings for the soul
Just remember to connect the dots in your story that lead to your passion, evoke the right emotions through your purposeful marketing, develop your strengths in what you do and meet the right needs of those you serve.