This may ruffle some feathers, but I've been thinking about this non-stop lately and I think it desperately needs to be said.
You can't brand strategy your way out of needing boundaries.
Allow me to explain. (And please put on your nuance cap while reading this!!!!!)
If you've spent any time on the marketing side of Instagram, then you'll be familiar with a common idea touted by the big marketing gurus:
“Brand strategy will solve all your problems.”
"I tweaked my branding until I stopped attracting any red flags or bad fits. Now my business runs itself!"
"If you just get your messaging clear enough, you'll attract only your perfect clients."
This is the kind of messaging that marketers use to sell their services, and for good reason—brand strategists, copywriters, and designers literally exist to help you position your business in a way that will attract more of the right kind of customer.
(I mean, hello, that's literally what I do, too.)
But here's the part that no one talks about—no matter how clearly you articulate your ideal client avatar, no matter how tight your copy and positioning, there will always be people who see themselves in your brand in ways you didn't intend or desire, even if they aren't an ideal fit for your services or vibe.
Now don't get me wrong, brand strategy exists to help you attract more of the right kind of person. And it does do that.
But the more successful your marketing efforts in general, the more people you'll attract…in general. And they won't always be your idea of a perfect fit.
So…why the hell does this happen?
Simply put, humans are complex. We all view brands through the lens of our own desires, needs, and experiences. And at the end of the day, you can't control how people interpret you and see themselves within your business.
To make matters more complicated, branding is more of an art than a science. Yes, you can use data to back up your decisions, but at the end of the day, branding is a creative act.
So then, what's the the solution?
This might seem obvious to you, but no fancy strategy can replace the need for discernment. And when your gut says "this isn't the right fit," listen to it.
I'm saying this because it's easy to fall into the trap of endless color and font and copy tweaks, all because the big marketing gurus on the internet made you believe “you'll never have a red flag client ever again because your branding is so strategic and specific”.
^^ And then of course when you DO experience a red flag situation, you're like “Well shit, I must be doing something wrong. My branding must not be strategic enough. Back to the drawing board.”
Maybe, just maybe, your marketing efforts are just attracting more people in general, both good and bad.
Maybe, just maybe, you're just aspirational AF.
TL;DR: No ideal client avatar, perfectly worded website copy, or spot-on social media ads will ever completely negate the need for discernment and boundaries. Those can only come from within, and they need to get stronger as your business grows bigger & bigger.