Intention: the New Mother of Invention

Intentions and Inventions

Acting on your intentions is a triumph.

In all of my roles (mom & friend, writer & marketer, fitness & wellness coach) I seem to give a lot of advice. One piece of advice I circle back around to often involves knowing your intention.

What do you really mean to do? What’s the original essence of your search for a tagline, or your business blog topic?

Anytime you know your intention, acting on it becomes a self-enabled process. You set yourself on a marked path when you consciously intend something. Happily, the powers of invention are behind you, too.

Consider monumental works of art or architecture. It’s a marvel how people have been so inspired, determined, activated, to stay on track to complete what they intended.

Yet it seems to feel just as triumphant when we finally clean out a closet, bake bread from scratch, or learn French just as we always intended, doesn’t it? It’s because whatever we intend is like a map to our higher ground.

And the accuracy of that map is pretty much carved in stone if we stick to it. It’s hard to get lost when you keep checking in with what you meant to do.

The only thing is, your intentions have to be in line with a couple of other things, like a compass–your truth, for instance. Tell the truth, even if it’s hard. If you tell made-up stories about who you are, what you stand for, and what you’ll do, you’re bound to get stuck in the wrong words and mess up your message.

Which leads to your actions. Your intentions without your actions aren’t worth too much. If they are very good intentions, such as comforting people, they are worth a little something. But if your actions work against you, say, you overpromise then underdeliver, well, you get the picture.

So, that’s pretty simple, right? You know your intentions, and then follow them like landmarks, to where, and who, you want to be.

What does that have to do with writing?

Boatloads! Journaling your intention for your writing will help shine a clear light on the creative process for your next word/headline/product name/slide/conclusion. Sound good?

Allow me to give you a real-life example.

CASE STUDY: I began work on initial branding for a new consumer electronics company launching with portable wireless Bluetooth® speakers. I was directed to focus on a voice that would speak to a young, tech-oriented demographic–music festival types. We were coming late to a saturated market, with very good, but not top-of-the-line, products.

The language inherited from early packaging and web writing efforts felt forced. We couldn’t claim too much, and we weren’t super edgy with an urban rap or rocker image like our established competitors. I felt stuck. Then: the intention/invention.

If we didn’t intend to compete head-to-head with the big guys on name, specs, or marketplace recognition, then what? We might intend to stand out for . . . aha! I started the list of our special features and benefits, and who might really appreciate those (not the audiophiles). Who could love something simple, clever, discreet, wireless AND new?

Next step became clear: learn where there’s room to market our speakers on their own merit. To people who needed their hands free and wanted a personal soundtrack of music in their lives, easily and affordably. Found ’em: bakers, crafters, teachers, personal trainers, gamers, travelers, salon owners, mechanics, etc. Tagline (and a lot more) came quickly after for bêm wireless: be more free. Good one, huh?

Once launched, they decided to hire a PR agency. Maybe they’ve drifted from our fantastic strategy, but that’s okay. Clients are free, as bêm’s awesome tag encourages.

“It’s amazing how much you can learn if your intentions are truly earnest.” — Chuck Berry

Now you Go Johnny. B. Goode and get your notebook so you can jot down what you intend for any issue that is troubling you or stalling your progress.

Writing Exercise: Journaling Your Intention

1. Consider the issue at hand. Write it out as a problem, desire or need.
“I can’t find a strong entry voice or USP for this brand within this _______ market.”

2.  Add to the above, what’s stopping you? What’s your main obstacle?
“I can’t find a strong entry voice or USP for this brand within this _______ market, because it’s so saturated, it’s all been said.”

 3. From the gut/heart, what’s wrong with that, in your opinion?
“It’s all been said. We won’t have  a unique way to stand out with our target. We can’t compete on the same field.”

4. Write “Intention” on the left and “Invention” on the right.
Consider 1, 2 & 3 then  under “Intention” answer: What is my intention?
Under “Invention:”: What would take me there, without going against my truth?

“To stand out with our message to our audience; find a way to break through with something of value to them.”
See how this plays out? It was basically already answered by question 3.

“Find an audience who isn’t claimed already, or bombarded. Who wants hands-free custom playlists with our features, look, affordability and portability? Vertical market: get to know them as a users, in ways our competition hasn’t.”

In this case, we found success with an inventive approach when faced with the all-too-common problem known as being late to the game. All it took was a close look at the intention of the brand. If you know where you’re going, you’re set–just be open to new ways of getting there and a lot of great ideas are bound to pop up if you let them.

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photo by: Anirudh Koul

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