Podcast #17: Practical Magic – Step One & Two in Manifesting Your Idea
Keeping our bedrock principles of manifesting in mind, now let’s get into some practical information, starting with a step-by-step look at how to manifest your ideas.
Step #1: Define Your Concept
The first step when manifesting an idea is to marry the emotional and practical elements of your idea into a defined concept. If you’ve worked through the process in Parts 2 and 3, you know your purpose and have a clear, concise statement of that purpose—one that should be entirely emotional. Now you need to connect that emotional purpose with a practical application.
As an example, let’s look back at Ikea. Their purpose is to “create a better everyday life” for many, but their concept is to “support this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.” While the two are related, they are quite different. One is a feeling, and the other is an offering.
Purpose Statement = Emotional
Concept Description = Practical
To define your concept, write down two to three simple, clear sentences describing what you are trying to create. The best way to do that is to write down everything in your mind without overthinking or letting the monkey-mind limit or confuse you. You know your purpose; just let the concept that comes from that purpose flow.
Write Concept Description Below
Once you have done this, refine your concept description by considering the following questions:
1. Is this aligned with my purpose statement?
2. If not, how can I align it with my purpose?
3. Is this my highest and best challenge right now?
4. How can I set this up in a way where I can meet my short-term and long-term needs while making it a reality?
Let’s look at an example. Say you wanted to open a fried-chicken restaurant. Well, the first question would be: What makes your fried-chicken shop different from other such shops? We call this your unique value proposition, or UVP. For our purposes, let’s use the following features as the ones creating your chicken shop’s UVP:
1. We only serve chicken fingers.
2. We have 20 homemade sauces.
3. We use organic farm-raised chickens.
4. We only do takeout and delivery, no in-store dining.
5. We employ former foster children for all non-managerial positions.
With this in mind, your concept description would be as follows:
We are opening a casual, quick-service chicken restaurant specializing in organic chicken fingers served with our one-of-a-kind homemade sauces. The restaurant will focus on takeout/pick-up and delivery business. Our service staff will be made up of former foster children, 18-24 years of age, in order to provide them the necessary skills to succeed both personally and professionally and give back to the community.
Most people never even get to the point of defining their concept. They get so excited about an idea that they start the process of creating without ever truly defining their UVP—without seeing if it aligns with their purpose and understanding if demand exists in the market. But your road to successfully manifesting your idea starts at the seed level: thought must precede action, and understanding what makes you different from everyone and everything else in your world is critical to creating something truly special.
Note: By referring to YOUR world instead of THE world, we are making a critical distinction. You don’t need to be the best in the world at what you do—you need to be the best in the world in which you are doing business. For example, let’s say you opened a North Carolina brewery; you don’t need to be the best brewery in America or the world to succeed, but only in your competitive zone, such as the state of North Carolina, or the Southeast United States. Then you set up the business plan to maximize your likelihood of success in that specific region. Defining your competitive zone is crucial, and when you are the best in YOUR world, the likelihood of greatness in THE world goes up exponentially.
Have an idea? Take a moment to refine your concept description now. Make sure to ask all the right questions and share your description with some people you trust.
Step #2: Creating Your Brand
The degree of trust I feel towards a product, rather than an assessment of its features and benefits, will determine whether I’ll buy this product or that.
—Marty Neumeier, author and branding expert
The next step in the manifesting process is to create your brand. What that means is taking your practical concept statement and turning it into a combination of:
More specifically, that means items like a logo, tagline, core values, and any other creative outputs (such as videos) that capture the essence of the message, feelings, and user experience you are trying to create. These visuals, values, and words together will create a brand that you will eventually turn into an actual product.
An easy way to understand visuals, values, and vocals is to compare yourself with friends or family. What makes you different? How you dress, your outfits, your hair, your glasses, how you sign your name—these are your visuals. What is important to you that may not be important to everyone else? These are your values. And how you speak, these are your vocals. Together these make up who you are. For a company, it’s their brand. For instance:
Richard Branson and Virgin are rebellious change-makers.
Timberland and Patagonia are adventurous explorers.
Mercedes and Ritz-Carlton are stable, old-guard rulers.
Campbell’s is a comforting caregiver.
Nike is the hero, the victor.
These brands didn’t always represent these archetypes—they didn’t always make people feel. They acquired that power over time by consistently delivering on their point of difference, their UVP. That consistent difference resulted in a distinct feeling among their audience. And that feeling will eventually be the emotional part of your brand, which exists right now only in your mind. When enough people feel one way about you, they become your community or tribe.
The tribe validates the brand. Or as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos put it, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”
Few companies execute that better than Starbucks. Originally, they were just a place to get coffee, a basic commodity. But over time, and consistently, Starbucks made people feel their point of difference. Eventually, we all knew what to expect from them, and they gained our trust. Now, we can get an Iced Green Tea anywhere in the world and feel that combination of familiarity, aspiration, and caffeine that so many of us crave. And we’re willing to pay a premium for the trust that comes with that consistency.
Brand Exercise #1:
To determine your brand, as an individual or an organization, try answering the following questions:
Who are you?
Example: We’re Starbucks, a multinational coffeehouse experience.
What do you do?
We’re not just passionate purveyors of coffee, we supply everything else that goes with a full and rewarding coffeehouse experience. We also offer a selection of premium teas, fine pastries, and other delectable treats to please the taste buds.
Why does it matter? (VALUES)
Every day, we go to work hoping to do two things: share great coffee with our friends and help make the world a little better. A place for conversation and a sense of community. We inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
What does it look like? (VISUALS)
Brand Exercise #2:
To express and share your brand I recommend you make a CONCEPT DECK. We’re talking about a simple document, 1-2 written pages, or, as a presentation, 8-10 slides (the type is bigger, don’t be intimidated), that you can share with others and consistently refine to describe your idea.
In a Word, PowerPoint, or Keynote document fill in the following outline, either as bullet points or slides:
1. Title: Brand Name/Logo
2. Purpose Statement: Create a better everyday life for many.
3. Concept Description: We are opening a quick-service chicken restaurant specializing in organic chicken fingers served with our one-of-a-kind homemade sauces. The restaurant will focus on take-out/pick-up and delivery business. Our staff will be made up of former foster children, 18-24 years of age, in order to give back to the community and provide them the necessary skills to succeed both personally and professionally.
4. Unique Value Proposition: List out the key differentiating points about what you are trying to create:
a. We only serve chicken fingers.
b. We have 20 homemade sauces.
c. We only use organic farm-raised chickens.
d. We only do takeout and delivery.
e. We employ former foster children.
5. Core Values: List the key attributes you would like people to feel about your business. For example, “always fresh and friendly.”
6. Visuals: Go on Instagram, Pinterest, Google images, Behance, or other platforms and find pictures, logos, and sayings that you believe capture the essence of what you are trying to create. Save these images on your computer and select the best ones. Add those to your deck to provide an idea of the “look and feel” of your brand.
7. Target Audience: The demographic or psychographic you are trying to reach. For example, young adults interested in street style and entrepreneurship between the ages of 25-40 years old. Or, people who believe that the government should be smaller and we should pay less taxes, a/k/a Republicans (a psychographic).
Once this document is complete, engage a graphic designer. They can be found through a friend, on Behance, Fiverr, Craigslist, or at a local university or coworking space. Ask the designer to help you refine your presentation into a simple, visually compelling explanation of your product or service. We will refer to this as your concept deck. Ideally the designer will also help you with the creation of a logo mark. While this may cost a few extra dollars, it will be valuable when interacting with potential customers, partners, or investors.
Remember, perception is reality.
Congrats! You are on your way.