When I was in Jr. High, I would doodle brand designs on notebooks & school assignments daydreaming of what my very own brand would look like someday living on the hips of beautiful performance horses grazing in wide open spaces on a big ranch somewhere way out west. A ranch I owned & operated a business at while sharing wonderfully wild and western adventures with family, friends & newcomers alike. Sure I had tossed around some ideas of how I’d go about it - everything from offering exclusive ranch getaways including meals by a campfire with a King Ranch vibe to birthday party & event planning with a cowgirl flair to even operating a unique western boutique - with all you’d ever need from ropes to boots & jeans & a cowgirl version of Barnes & Nobles & Starbucks. I wanted to create a space for people with the cowgirl state of mind to gather. I actually built a landing page & a business plan for that last venture idea while I was in college. I remember my professor stating with a wide-eyed grin, “Only one of its kind,” as he handed my barebones business plan outlined in a 5-star 3-ring binder with an A- written in red in the top right hand corner back to me. I’ve always had an entrepreneur spirit, a love for the western way of life & a desire to share it with others. I guess it’s safe to say that big dreams were never in short supply for this small town cowgirl with southern roots.
Instead of telling me to get my head out of the clouds when my mama saw these brand doodles back in my highschool days, she encouraged me to keep dreaming by actually drawing the Dakota Dawn Johnson brand logo that you see today. The two D’s angled in the sunrise stand for my initials Dakota Dawn. She chose the sun symbol to go along with my middle name Dawn as the word Dawn itself symbolizes the beginning of a new day lending an opportunity for happiness, improvement & rebirth. I’ve always loved sunrises. Watching the dawn of a new day peak up through the darkness sharing it’s light in the most inviting & beautiful way while most of the world is still sleeping is like food for my soul.
My idea of what a personal brand looks like & stands for has evolved greatly since my highschool rodeo days. My mama passed away unexpectedly in January of 2015. She lived life to the fullest. She didn’t mix word & gave healthy doses of tough love out on a regular basis. She was the most resourceful & loyal person I’d ever known. Her word was her bond. She didn’t make excuses or wait for ideal circumstances. She loved horses, her friends, her family & road trips. People knew where she stood & she never minded ruffling feathers if there was a challenge that needed leaning into. She was a cowgirl through & through & lived by example.
Ever since then, I’ve looked at the gift of a person’s life & the time we have here on earth to make our mark- to leave our personal brand if you will- on those around us - with a deeper meaning. When I think about what a personal brand means to me these days, I look at it with these questions in mind -
In what ways can I use my God-given talents to glorify Him?
How do I want to make people feel?
What type of legacy do I want to leave behind long after I’m gone?
So over the past 6 years, I’ve done a lot of soul searching, self reflecting & studying to nail down what I’m about & what I want my brand to say about me.
Storyteller, Waymaker, Purveyor of Purpose -
I believe we all have a story worth telling, a cause that needs our advocacy and a greater purpose worth pursuing. As I lean into each of these roles, I feel like a little piece of my mama is riding shotgun with me as I live out those small town cowgirl dreams she encouraged many years ago by drawing my brand.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that we are each a walking talking logo for our very own personal brand. We must be mindful of what we say about ourselves, because word of mouth travels fast.
I hope this encourages you to think on a deeper level when building your brand my friend.
Make each day count,