Lesson in Competence from My Daughter – Building Your Personal Brand

girl riding a bike
Personal Branding Podcast

Lesson in Competence from My Daughter – Building Your Personal Brand

Have you ever been so engrossed in a task that the world fades away? That is what happened to me this morning. Lost in a document on my laptop, I barely noticed my daughter zooming in. But here’s the surprise: she wasn’t just riding her bike—she was balancing a tricycle on her handlebars while engrossed in a book! It was a display of effortless multitasking that left me awestruck. Just a short while ago, she struggled mightily with mastering the bike itself. Now, she’s reached a point where cycling is second nature, freeing her to tackle other challenges simultaneously.

This remarkable transformation got me thinking: this journey of acquiring a new skill—the path from initial struggle to seemingly effortless mastery—perfectly mirrors the stages of building a strong brand. Both require dedication, growth, and a willingness to learn.

The 4 Stages of Learning: A Model for Brand Building.

The concept of competence, which was first examined in Noel Burch’s Four Stages of Learning Theory in the 1970s, provides a solid foundation for comprehending the journey. Using these four critical steps to demonstrate how they apply to the exciting realm of brand building.

Stage 1: Unconscious incompetence: You do not know what you don’t know.

The first stage is known as “unconscious incompetence.” It’s that initial stage when you have no idea what you don’t know.

Think about my daughter before she learned to ride. The bike existed, shining in the corner of the hallway, but she was unaware of its capabilities or the skills required to run it. In the area of branding, someone at this point may be actively reading through social media, blissfully oblivious to the great potential that branding has for themselves or their business. They may not even perceive the necessity for a brand. It’s a case of “ignorance is bliss,” with no awareness of the disparity between their current situation and the possibilities that a great brand could uncover.

Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence: An Awareness Spark

Now, imagine the moment my daughter first saw a bike. Perhaps a friend whizzed by, leaving a trail of laughter and wind. Maybe she saw a picture in a book. This spark of awareness ignites the transition to the next stage: “conscious incompetence.” Here, the individual becomes aware of the knowledge and skills they lack.

In branding terms, this awakening might come from:

Observing a competitor with a captivating brand identity.

A conversation highlighting the importance of brand building in today’s marketplace.

Realizing your brand (or lack thereof) does not attract your desired audience.

This stage can be a turning point. The individual becomes actively aware of the gap between their current situation (no brand strategy) and their desired destination (a strong, recognizable brand). This newfound awareness often leads to a surge of curiosity and a desire to learn more. They might start researching branding basics, exploring successful brands, or even attending workshops or webinars.

Here is what is key about “conscious incompetence”:

This is the stage at which you recognize your limitations in branding.

You understand that you need to learn and develop new skills.

This awareness opens the door to actively seeking knowledge and resources.

By addressing the explanation in this way, we emphasize the core aspects of “conscious incompetence” and its role in the brand-building journey.

Pitfalls of Unconscious Incompetence and the Need to Evolve

Still, the danger of getting stuck in the “unconscious incompetence” phase must be acknowledged. The significance of branding is completely lost on many individuals and companies. It could seem like a pointless expenditure or a pointless task to them. A major obstacle to progress can be ignorance. It is difficult to stand out, attract consumers, and cultivate loyalty in a crowded market when the brand is weak or nonexistent.

Consider this: if my daughter had never spotted the bike, she would have missed out on the thrill and freedom that cycling brings. Similarly, a firm that ignores the power of branding would miss out on the numerous benefits it provides. It’s like having a powerful engine sitting idle; the potential for expansion remains untapped.

Stage 3: Conscious Competence: The Power of Knowing

Now, let us delve into the exciting stage of “conscious competence.” Here, the rubber meets the road, and the learning from the previous stage is put into action. You have enrolled in a branding course, devoured eBooks, and actively sought mentorship. You have identified your brand values, crafted a compelling message, and developed a cohesive visual identity.

This newfound knowledge empowers you with a sense of confidence—the feeling of “knowing that you know.” It’s like my daughter, who can now confidently navigate her bike, using two hands or just one, while carrying a conversation or enjoying a book.

This brand-new confidence translates into your brand interactions. You approach potential clients with a clear understanding of your value proposition and how it benefits them. Create marketing materials that resonate with your target audience. You exude authority and expertise in your field.

This stage is about consistently delivering on your brand promise. You’ve put in the hard work, addressed your early mistakes, and refined your brand message. Now, you can confidently say, “Yes, I can deliver on what I promise.”

Stage 4: Unconscious Competence: The Mastery Stage

Now, let’s reach for the pinnacle–the stage at which we’ve all been striving for unconscious competence. This is the realm of effortless mastery, where your brand actions become second nature. It’s like my daughter this morning, effortlessly gliding on her bike, a picture of focused calm among multitasking.

Remember the initial struggle to learn how to drive? The white-knuckled grip, the constant fear of stalling, and the stress of navigating traffic? Now, imagine getting behind the wheel and driving almost on autopilot. You handle the controls instinctively, leaving your attention free to focus on conversation or enjoying the scenery. This is unconscious competence in action.

Characteristics of Unconscious Competence

Effortless Excellence: Actions that formerly needed conscious effort to become automatic. Deliver your brand promise with natural ease, instilling trust and confidence.

Intuitive Decision Making: You have a deep awareness of your brand’s identity and essential beliefs. This enables you to make judgments that are completely consistent with your brand message, even under duress.

Second Confidence: Your brand identity becomes an extension of you. You exhibit unwavering confidence in your knowledge and ability to provide value.

Magnetic Attraction: The strength of your brand automatically draws your target audience. People relate to your genuineness and the principles you represent.

Here are some important strategies to consider to help Reach the Unconscious Competence Stage:

Continuous Learning: Don’t stop expanding your knowledge base. Keep up with industry changes and best practices to ensure that your brand messaging remains current.

Get input: Actively seek input from your target audience and utilize it to improve your branding approach.

Refine your process. As you get more experience, optimize your brand-building methods to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Practice Makes Perfect. The more consistently you live and breathe your brand, the more deeply embedded it gets in your behaviors and relationships.

Power of Unconscious Competence.

Reaching the unconscious competence stage is not only about personal fulfillment; it also opens countless benefits for your brand.

Improved Brand Consistency: Your brand message becomes clearer, more consistent, and resonates across all touchpoints.

Effortless Brand Advocacy: Your actions will naturally become a kind of brand advocacy, recruiting new customers and increasing loyalty among existing ones.

Increased Productivity: By streamlining your brand-building procedures, you can free up critical time and resources to focus on other aspects of your organization.

Lastly, Your Brand Journey Begins Now.

The four levels of competency—unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence—form a solid basis for navigating your brand-building journey. Remember that no matter where you fall on this spectrum, there is always room for improvement.

Accept the learning process, aggressively seek knowledge, and constantly develop your brand messaging. With dedication and commitment, you, too, can reach the pinnacle of unconscious competence, where your brand develops effortlessly and amazingly.

Take the first step now. Evaluate your current branding stage. Are you in the early phases of your mastery journey, or are you already there? Regardless of your current position, there is always room for advancement. Begin studying, taking action, and seeing your brand transform into a dominant force in your business.

Bernard Kelvin Clive is a leading authority on personal branding and digital book publishing in Africa. With over a decade of experience in digital publishing, he has been a trusted consultant for entrepreneurs, pastors, and individuals looking to build their brands and write their books. An Amazon best-selling author with over 50 published, and his expertise has earned him recognition as a sought-after speaker and corporate trainer.

Bernard’s approach to presenting complex ideas is unmatched, as he simplifies them and presents them in clear, actionable steps for his audiences.

Bernard is also the host of the highly-ranked Career & Business Podcast, where he shares his insights on branding and life. As a brand strategist at BKC Consulting, he runs the monthly Branding & Publishing Masterclass, helping individuals take their personal and professional brands to new heights. To learn more about Bernard and his work, visit

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