Three ways to maintain your brand through parenthood



Angelina Jolie’s brand has always been about adventure. By choosing to play roles including hacker, drug-addicted model, mental hospital patient, car thief, and assassin, she firmly established herself in the public mind as more than just a female love interest.

The adventurous aspect of her brand developed in a radically new direction when she filmed Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia. After falling in love with the formerly war-torn country and adopting a native orphan , the iconoclastic sex symbol broadened her worldview and devoted part of her clout to furthering humanitarian causes and building a large family. 

Angelina Jolie is now 40 years old and still pushing boundaries in her career and personal life. The adventurer brand remains, but in a different form, in order to accommodate her new priorities and increasing responsibility. She managed the evolution of her brand brilliantly, letting go of parts that no longer made sense as she grew as a person, and retaining the ones that set her apart from the crowd in the first place. 

One of the scary parts about having kids is the idea of losing a part of yourself. This is not a reasonable fear because the reality is that we are losing parts of ourselves all the time. We grow up, and almost nothing is ours to keep throughout our lifetimes.

More often than not, however, our driving forces remain the same. Branding is about maintaining and communicating the core values that remain constant. This can be challenging when everything, inside and outside of us, is in flux due to personal development and parenthood.

Here are three key concepts that can help with brand evolution management through parenthood:

1. Hold on to your core values

Angelina Jolie did not stop taking risks with her career when she became a mother. She now directs as well as acts, and creates films that tell stories of global and personal trauma. In this she maintains her adventurousness but with the responsibility of a humanitarian who seeks to increase awareness and a mother who reins back on rated-R topics.

Figure out what core values drive your brand and you will have a better idea of what you really want going forward as everything around you changes. Your core values may drive you to make different choices than you ordinarily would have, because of your increased power and responsibility, but they remain fundamentally the same.

2. Be creative and open-minded

All my life, people have told me that I’m creative and I didn’t know what it meant. Beginning from middle school through the end of law school, I mostly thought when people said, “You are creative”, what they really meant was, “You are weird”. Which makes sense, because people don’t actually like creativity and they are biased towards the status quo.

Creative people don’t know how to think any other way than the way that they already do, so they don’t really notice that they are different until people point it out. Although people don’t actually like creativity, they are a fan of the after-effects, and creativity is key to managing your brand evolution. So, it makes sense to push yourself to think creatively about your options.

Here’s what I think people can do to increase their ability to think creatively: Kill your assumptions.

Let’s say that you start out with A, and you want to get to B. There are two or three paths that most people take. However, there is also a universe of possibilities as to how you choose to get there. Focus on the universe, not the existing paths. Throw in everything at your disposal and play around with outcomes. Test each for viability. You might find a better path than the ones that others have taken. You might even find a better place to go than B.

3. Be confident

From the moment that I got pregnant, I knew that I was going to be thinking about my children for the rest of my life, and that my life was changed forever. 

What hasn’t changed is my regard for freedom. I was a Libertarian before I even knew what that meant. I will always value freedom and efficiency. My brand is empowering, and it will continue to guide me going forward.

Strong branding gives everyone an edge. In a world of uncertainty, knowing your brand identity can give you, as well as the people around you, a lot of confidence, because when you know your brand, you know how you’re going to handle the future. That gives you, and everyone around you a sense of stability.

How are you maintaining your brand through parenthood?