The fear that binds

One of my favorite Georgia O’Keffe quotes is “I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” I love it because I too feel fear every single day. Truthfully, unlike my hero, I have let it stop me, way too often. I am not proud of this. I don’t want to share it with you, the vast faceless sea of humanity that forms social media and the web. I certainly don’t wish to share it with friends and family. I’m not even sure I want to admit to myself, how much time I’ve lost to fear and procrastination. Days. Months. Years.

And yet, here I am writing it down and publishing it. And no, I’m not asking for feedback - positive or negative. This is A) to encourage and hold myself accountable for taking action and B) to let you know that you aren’t alone if you identify with allowing fear to stop you.

In a recent entrepreneurial class, our professors encouraged us to take small measurable steps in creating our businesses. “Take easy, 3-foot tosses,” they repeated, because, here’s the thing, 3-foot tosses taken every day, add up in very short order.

Want to take that expensive vacation? Start setting aside 5 to 10% of all pre-tax income, you’ll be amazed at how fast it adds up. And, from personal experience, as a single mom, who lives paycheck to paycheck way too often, having a savings when you washer dies, is a HUGE weight off your chest.

Want to hike the Winds and haven’t stepped into a gym in a year? Walk a couple of miles a day. Head to Sacred Rim weekly. Ask for help and guidance from people who are out there. Honestly, people love to help!

The only way you are going to loose is by sitting at home numbing out on social media with a bag of potato chips.

Those of you who know me well, know that I am a firm believer in the Law of Attraction, manifesting, actualizing, whatever you call it. And here’s the thing, you can sit on your cushion, focusing on your hearts desires, but if you don’t take steps, nothing is going to happen. You have to take action! (I have to take action.)

So here’s my accountability part. I have been needing to be better at sharing what I do (I’m a freelance graphic designer if you didn’t know and I happen to be pretty good at it, (shameless self-promotion). I’m also stepping into the world of life coaching this year). And I bought a little road bike last year, she’s red and cute and looks like fun. But I’m scared of getting on her, so I procrastinate in many ways.

Action steps for me this week, include, contacting one new person this week and sharing what I do, asking if there is anything I can help them with. And I commit to starting Reba up and taking her out, even if it’s only for a short ride this week. I’ll report back to you next week on my progress. 

Where I would love feedback, is in hearing where you are at. Where have you let the voice of fear win? What 3-foot toss will you take this week? Where have you won? Let’s create the life and living we truly desire now!

I’m Deanne Swain, a freelance graphic designer and coach, my passion is helping individuals and businesses to create alignment internally and convey their brand externally to the world around them. You can connect with me at, email me at  or follow me on Instagram @d_swaindesign.

Establishing Your Brand

A brand is more than just a logo. A brand is a way that people identify with and feel about your business. It sets you apart from your competitors. Obviously, we’re all going for positive feelings, such as trust, so that we can garner repeat customers and word of mouth referrals. We want to become the Kleenex™ of whatever our business is. 


When creating your brand, it is vitally important that you take some time to reflect on your core values. According to LinkedIn, “Core values are what support the vision, shape the culture and reflect what a company values. They are the essence of the company's identity ... Core values educate clients and potential customers about what the company is about and clarify the identity of the company.” What is important to you as a business owner spills over into your business identity, which is a good thing, as this creates alignment, which in turn helps establish trust. 


Once you have established your top four or five values, write them on a sticky note and place them on your bathroom mirror or computer screen. Sit with them for a week or so to be sure they feel really authentic on a deep level. These values are what you want your customer to think of when they think of your business.


The next step in brand creation is your mission statement. This is where you define your purpose and give an understanding of why your business is important. Be specific, keep it short and simple. Your tagline is likely to come out of your mission statement. 


The next internal reflecting piece is to know your “why.” Why are YOU the best possible business for people to use? What sets you apart from your competitors? Are you the best? Do you have a niche that no one else has? (Ideally, you have both!)


The last step is to know who your ideal customer is. You may have more than one avatar, but you want to really narrow this down so that you know exactly what your buyers’ pain points are and how your product or service can best meet their needs.

Once you have this work done, then it’s time to move on to the fun stuff - the visuals! Your brand’s visual identity includes the colors, fonts, voice, and imagery that portrays your business in the best possible way.

Your logo is the face of your company. When people see your logo, you want them to think of you, even without seeing your name (think of the swoosh symbol that identifies Nike™). 

There are a variety of brand creation resources available, from DIY services to creative, local designers to large marketing firms. My suggestion is that you work with a designer or firm whose style you like and who is willing to sit with you and get to know you and your business on a personal level. Remember the services triangle when researching and planning for your branding needs: Good/Cheap/Fast - you can only pick two.

 Your designer will help you create the visual look of your brand, along with a brand book - a visual collection of your brand. This will contain your logo (in color and black & white), brand colors, brand fonts, visual images, and mascots if needed. Once these are established, it’s important to stick with them consistently in every use so that your audience can easily identify your business.

I’m Deanne Swain, a freelance graphic designer and coach, my passion is helping individuals and businesses to create alignment internally and convey their brand externally to the world around them. You can connect with me at, email me at  or follow me on Instagram @d_swaindesign.