This guest post is by Lisa Haggis
I was newly liberated from my corporate job back in 2012 when I stumbled across Jennifer Lee. You likely recognize her as the best-selling author of The Right-Brain Business Plan, but it was her Right Brainers in Business Video Summit that initially won me over.
Coming from a typical office job (bogged down with a typical dose of politics), this event was a beautifully odd beast to me – I had never before seen such vivid proof that it was, in fact, possible to be both authentic and successful in the world of business.
Through her books and her company, Artizen Coaching, Jenn has built an empire that is empowering an army of creative souls. Her brand is completely unforgettable, and we're going to explore, including anecdotes from Jenn herself, some of the concepts that make it work so well.
BUILT ON PURPOSE
“I believe my work empowers creatives to leverage their right-brain genius in their business (and life),” shares Jenn. “So many creative types are intimidated or shut down by thinking they ‘should’ be approaching their business (or life goals) in the traditional, ‘left-brain’ way and I want them to know that in fact, their creativity is their most valuable asset and they can use that to run their business authentically, intuitively, and successfully.”
Her vision and values are further articulated in the “Right-Brain Entrepreneur Badge of Honor” she created alongside her first book -- my favorite part of which is the bold rally cry “My Creative Work Matters.” And, judging by the loving and engaged following that Jenn has cultivated, it was a message the world was hungry to hear.
MAKING IT A LIVING
In essence, Jenn’s work is all about helping others make their dreams a reality. She explains, upfront, the value she provides on the Artizen Coaching landing page: “I help creative people like you turn your ideas into profitable and sustainable businesses and live life in full color.”
Consistent with her obvious inclination to make everything visual, Jenn provides, on her site, an illustrated (and transparent) account of her personal and business milestones over the years. From 2003 – 2006 she started up her coaching practice alongside a corporate day job. She created (and shared!) the first right-brain business plan for herself in 2007, and launched the book, licensing program, and video summit in 2011.
Her story proves, once again, that great brands don’t happen overnight. Jenn admits that finding one cohesive brand direction was an early struggle:
“I had so many various interests and offers – I had my coaching (which at the time – around 2003 - was branded as more corporate with a totally different name and look and feel) and I had a separate arts and crafts business selling handmade books. I desperately wanted to find a way to merge them together, but my brand, message, and offers weren’t clear enough for me to do that just yet.”
How did she break through? “My brand clarity developed over the years by simply trying new things, honing my message, putting myself out there, and seeing what resonated with my perfect peeps and with me. The other piece that probably made a difference was when I really started to own my own creativity and to lead from that more."
POINTS OF DISTINCTION
1) Pioneering New Ways
Browse the history of her product offerings and it becomes clear that Jenn is consistently shaking up the traditional format of things to make them more fun, personal, and right-brain friendly. “I believe that launching, growing, and sustaining your business can be a fun process. Another expression of how you find joy in everything you do,” she states on her About page. “I know that anyone can create a visual plan that’s as effective (if not more so!) as a traditional plan.”
These core values and beliefs are at the heart of her ongoing innovations -- from the Right-Brain Business Plan to her Unfolding Your Life Vision kit, which rethinks the standard practice of creating a vision board for your life.
While it’s clear that she’s a creative first, Jenn also has a knack for developing systems and tools that honor creative freedom within them. She’s not simply prettying up processes, but pioneering better ways, while applying insights from her unique blend of corporate, coaching, yoga, and artistic wisdom.
This aspect of her brand hasn’t only showed up in her signature creative systems, but also in her various business practices, like her famous calendar wall and extraordinarily intimate video summit. If it’s not visual, personal, and fun, she’s going to find a better way to do it.
2) A Tribe of Creatives
When you don’t see “Right-Brain” in the title, you can be sure that “creative” or "art" is picking up the slack. There’s not a single product or piece of content under this brand that isn’t specifically geared to serving the world’s right-brain thinkers.
Jenn and her right-brainers are a prime example of standing out by going all in and serving a specific kind of customer. The key? She serves an audience that has something in common with each other (and her) that they’re passionate about: Their creativity.
By connecting with an audience that shares her own values and passion for creative expression, she is constantly able to add value and deeply connect with them over common interests – things like Art Every Day Month and her own e-book, Playtime with your Inner Muse. She has also been able to build up a community of like-minded licensed facilitators that can broaden the impact of her work.
And, as a slightly-more-left-brainer, I can confidently add that this approach hasn’t stopped Jenn from serving people well beyond the parameters of the defined tribe. That’s the funny thing about specificity in defining your audience: the message stays potent and pure, making you more attractive to almost everyone.
3) Heart-Led Business (& Life)
This component of Jenn’s brand isn’t necessarily as obvious in her marketing messages or upon landing on her site, but the high premium that she places on aligning her work to her values is instantly palpable when you dive into her musings or see her speak. The “zen” side of Artizen Coaching begins to make sense in those moments where her inner yogini and sensitive soul take the stage.
I recall a moment during the video summit when she was moved to tears because of the generous act of someone in the community. It was moving, genuine, and heartening proof that the masculine paradigm of business professionalism was starting to crumble.
She delivers her sales videos in front of an alter adorning a candle and other sacred, meaningful symbols. She openly advocates “self-care Fridays.” Her mentorship program includes “Nurture Huddle” calls. She seeks out both business leaders and spiritual sages to bring unconventional thinking to her video summit – covering topics like heart-based pricing and feeding your intuition.
The first statement of intention on her Badge of Honor is that she will “celebrate the courage it takes to follow my heart and pursue my passions.” And it certainly does take courage to do these things; to show up fully as yourself in any aspect of life. Leading by example in this way has, no doubt, played a large role in Jenn’s rise to success.
Every single piece of the brand offers up a sunny look and feel that promises a fun and uplifting experience.
“I wanted my Right-Brain Business Plan brand to feel fun, creative, handmade, playful, and accessible but still carry a strong sense of professionalism and polish,” she shares. “I wanted business to feel do-able and friendly, and to have fun while still taking your business seriously. I really love hand-drawn fonts and illustrations so I worked with my dear friend Kate Prentiss to come up with the initial look and feel for my original 9-page e-book (from 2008) that evolved over the years into the book and my overall brand.”
In addition to the hand-drawn fonts, the creative and handmade feel comes across in the use of fun scrapbooking and craft references – paper textures, dotted lines, and doodles; It's difficult to spot a single sharp edge or perfect line in sight. A heavy dose of blue introduces the more contemplative and sensitive nature of the brand, with shots of vibrant green and yellows to keep it cheerful. Across the brand presence, you encounter a wealth of happy group photos that build up a sense of inclusivity and community.
Jenn is equally colorful with her choice of language, having built up a robust pool of distinctive brand vocabulary. It’s not “money,” it’s “moola.” They’re not “partners,” they’re “creative cohorts.” She provides "Right-brain Boosters" and "Left-brain Chill Pills." Naturally, it’s all fun, playful, and light-hearted.
I think Jenn’s story is the epitome of what it means to be authentically remarkable. Her success flourished when she began to lean more and more fully into who she uniquely is: her creative, right-brained, and sensitive self.
As she expressed, this isn’t something she knew how to do right out of the gate. She kept moving, evolving, and putting herself out there in order for these pieces to fall into place. The lesson? Don’t try to discover your strengths in a bubble – get out there and test your chops. And when you find something that resonates with you and your people, own it fully and don't look back!