5 Brand Lessons For 2014: Year Of The Horse

Many of us have forgotten about our New Year Resolutions by now, but with the Chinese New Year just over 2 weeks away we have something new to reflect on.

We are about to embark upon the Year of the Horse, which meant very little to me until I learned the meaning behind it.

Defined by hard work and self-reliance, the horse is Action Oriented.  When it comes to brand strategy - who doesn’t want something action oriented?

After all, brand strategy without action is just a piece of paper. A pretty piece of paper, but it's your forward action that brings it to Life.

Now vs Then: The Horse + The Snake

Before you go riding off into the sunset with your strategic partnerships and fancy new Pinterest campaign, let’s get a better understanding of where we were last year and where we are headed.

2013: The Year of the Snake

Last year was about quiet contemplation.

It was a year of accumulating information, finding your place and settling in. Thoughtful movement.

Snakes are known to sit completely still for hours (or even days) watching, observing, and understanding their prey so they know precisely when and how to strike.

This is a really important component of your brand strategy, or any strategy for that matter.

Make sure you have put in the necessary time and energy to really understand your clients. I mean REALLY understand them. Who they are and what they want (not just what they say they want).

Remember, your brand is nothing without your clients, so your brand strategy needs to be focused on communicating with them. Which is impossible if you don’t really know what they want.

Shedding Your Skin

With the New Year upon us, it is time to take what we learned last year and apply it to what we want to do now. As we let go of our wins and losses from the last year, we get to start new - just as a snake sheds it’s skin - allowing us to move forward and embrace our inner horse.

The year of the horse is characterized by following your intuition. It’s about your natural, wild, inner strength. Imagine a wild mustang or a bucking bronco ... horses are powerful and charge forward.

But this isn’t a year of brute force. Far from it. According to the Chinese Zodiac, the horse makes unremitting efforts to improve themselves. They are also energetic, intelligent, warm-hearted, and able.

Start Horsing Around


Obviously the year of the horse has some great stuff going for it … but it doesn’t stop there.

Horses are also said to be ingenious communicators.

All the more reason to really look closely at your marketing and how you are communicating your brand.

This is your year to really break the mold and connect with your clients in a whole new way.

Maybe that means doing something outside the box. Or maybe that just means making the time to actually do it.

Website need a little re-fresh? Maybe you need more life in your online presence. Want to make deeper connections while you communicate with your clients? Maybe this is the year to try video.

Don’t let all this horsepower go to your head. It doesn't mean you are blindly forging ahead. It’s about releasing your hidden fears and running wild with the strength you have found.


5 Brand Lessons From The Horse


This year is a year of taking risks and trying new things. Harnessing that inner power you’ve been storing, and letting it run loose.

1. Quit chomping at the bit.

Set the meeting you’ve been afraid to. Trust your instincts; you’re ready. You don’t need to wait for things to be perfect (newsflash, it’s never the “right” time). This is the time for you to make it happen.

2. Run wild and free.

So you’ve got great ideas, and don’t know how to express them? Pitch it! Shake off your bridles and limitations to let the creativity you’ve been collecting loose! This year is about momentum, so start off strong and you might find yourself at the head of the pack.

3. Get back in the saddle.

If you had a setback last year, shake it off. Sometimes we don’t get to move forward without taking a few steps back. Last year was about caution and investigation. It might not have been the right time, or maybe you needed some more time to get on the right foot. Try again this year with your new perspective.

4. If you climb in the saddle, get ready for the ride!

The horse year takes no prisoners. This year might feel a little like a roller coaster. Or even like a rodeo. That’s what happens when you take a risk. But big risks mean big rewards. So even if you aren’t ready for a big RISK, make sure to take small adventures. Take action, even if you are afraid. Just remember not to get too carried away in the free spirited momentum of a horse year.

5. Listen up, while you Giddy Up.

Before you think the horse has no flaws, you should know that they are also known to be bad listeners. Horses can be overly independent and not ones to accept advice. All the more reason to make sure you seek out people or professionals who can help you achieve your goals this year.

Regardless of whether you have an idea or a fully laid out plan, 2014 is your year to giddy up and get going!