forming a Nature-Inspired Sustainable Brand Away From Corporate Constraints With Sophie from Be Your Best Version

"From corporate constraints to a brand that feels like me"

After years of working in corporate communications and leadership Sophie decided she wanted more freedom to do what she loved so launched her leadership coaching business, Be Your Best Version. She offers outdoor coaching to help the people she works with really step away from their work environments to gain more clarity.

Sophie wanted to re-brand as she said…
“I felt disconnected to my brand. Over the last 18 months I had changed a lot as a person and I also wanted my business to go in a slightly different direction. My branding didn’t reflect who I was, my values, mission or who I wanted to work with but I didn’t know exactly where the problem was or how to fix it by myself.”


A few of the topics we discuss…

  • How getting out into nature inspired the re-brand
  • Creating a personal brand as an introvert
  • Feeling constrained by corporate before treading her own path
  • How the re-brand process worked
  • How Sophie chose Creative Wilderness
  • Why branding is the most important investment you can make in your business
  • How Sophie built her brand from her seed of an idea

Watch the video below to see the full brand story (audio version too if you’d prefer to listen!)





by Charlotte from Creative Wilderness & Sophie from Be Your Best Version

brand story transcript

C: Hello, I’m Charlotte from Creative Wilderness and welcome to Brand Stories, a series that’s going to go behind the brand of some of the amazing entrepreneurs, business owners and startups I’ve worked with. Let’s hear the brand story – I’m really excited to be chatting to Sophie, who’s the founder of Be Your Best Version.

Like me, she is a fellow nature lover. So I’m sure we’re gonna be chatting a lot about that too. And we’re gonna be finding out about Sophie’s rebrand, how she found the process, and just general brand building. Welcome Sophie! For anyone that doesn’t know you, would you like to just do a little brief introduction?

S: Hi, I’m Sophie Rag and I’m the founder of Be Your Best Version, which is a leadership and sustainability coaching business. I absolutely adore coaching. I’ve been doing it for quite a few years now and it’s when you see that aha moment in people, you know, when, when they sat there, they’ve been struggling with something, then all of a sudden it, you can just see it click. It’s just oh, I love it. Absolutely love it.

C: Your love for nature I think is probably how we connected, first of all, is that right? What prompted you to reach out? Because you’d already been doing your business and your coaching for about a year before. And then you reached out to me with some frustrations. Can you share where you were at that point?

S: So I’ve always loved being out in nature, from even being a little kid. And then growing up I’ve always been out in the garden or out doing some sort of walking in the woods. I’ve got a dog, so we spent a lot of time out in the woods and I just love being out there. And I think when I first started the business, I came from a corporate background, so I was trying to keep that corporateness about me. I thought I can’t possibly take clients out into nature and wander around with them because although I’m comfortable there, a lot of people aren’t because it’s taking them away from what they see as normal. They expect to meet. But when I first started the business, it was pre lockdown, so at that point people were expecting to meet face-to-face in an office environment, in a meeting room. Just trying to even do things over Zoom back then was just unheard of really. So I think a lot has shifted since then, and I think lockdown also helped op open people’s minds to the benefits of nature.

They suddenly saw how useful it was to them and along that as well. During that point, I lost my mum to cancer, unfortunately. And when I started the grieving process, being in nature was really important to me to just getting back out there. Just walking around, it really helped soothe me, soothe my soul, and helped me think. Because you’d be sat at home really struggling to work through something. You’d go out and then all of a sudden, it kind of just frees your mind. You are out there and you can suddenly think far more clearly and far deeper. So I really wanted to get that into my business.

And so, I was looking around for somebody who would get that because I knew I needed a rebrand, because what I’d got before was very corporate and it didn’t really feel like it represented me anymore. I felt really quite disconnected to it. So, I started looking around for somebody who would embrace that. I was looking at ethical sustainability putting in loads of different words into Google and that’s how I found you, Charlotte. And just looking at your website, I just knew instantly that yes, this is the person I need to work with!

C: That’s amazing! And a nice show of the power of being discoverable on Google and then also having a really great website and brand experience so that it attracts dream clients like you to come in! I suppose that’s a similar thing that you wanted to do with your your website.

Did you find before that you bought the nature stuff in were you attracting the right type of clients then?

S: To be fair, before, I didn’t think I even dared bring it in. So I was starting to build more and more constrain by what I was doing and more of a disconnect. And I thought, actually, no, I, I left corporate to set up my own business to tread my own path and actually I’ve ended up not really doing what I want to do! So, that was something that I actually really wanted to go back to and find a way of appealing to corporate clients whilst embracing the nature. And for me, I just couldn’t see how to do that. I didn’t know. So that’s why I came to you, you’re the expert.

C: Me and Sophie did a wonderful in-person. Sophie wasn’t too far away from me so we had a brand exploration session out in nature. So we’re gonna have a little talk about that because as you can hear, we’re both really passionate about big thinking and how it happens outdoors and we don’t come up with our ideas indoors.

So instead of the usual, send over a questionnaire and do a Zoom chat – we met up. It is actually possible on Zoom as well, which we both know, we can do this type of stuff on Zoom. It is just getting out into nature. And we had about three or four hours outside and I took Sophie through some activities to connect her with her brand. And we just explored lots of things and there was a couple of activities I think that you found brought “aha moments” that we spoke about. Can you remember, can you recall any of those?

S: Yes. I think the first one was we started off at the edge of a field and it’s kind of a bit of a hill there. And you asked me to walk to the middle point of the field which was almost at the brow of the hill and see that as walking from now. That where we were stood to five years in the middle of the hill. And then from there, from the five year point to the end of the field, it was going from five to 10 years. That’s what we needed to think about. And it sounds quite simple and you think, yeah, okay, here we go. But, as I started walking, I was amazed at actually what came up and what came through.

I’ve done things like this before. Another planning sort of strategy sessions and they’ve all been inside. And the stuff that came out whilst I was walking, I’d never even thought of. There were just all these ideas that were popping up and I was like, where’s that come from? I got some ideas and I was like, I can’t actually see how I could get from this position to being able to do that. But, I want to do that. That’s really, really exciting.

It’s been really interesting because since then I’ve done other things and all of a sudden you think, that’s how I can connect to this bit that I saw on that walk. You know? So it was really fascinating and like I say, it’s a very simple exercise. And I think it is that moving that really gets you to think about it. It was just fantastic.

C: Yeah, I always think it’s hard to get great ideas when you’re sat in front of a screen, there’s just this pressure to come up with something and like you say, when you are walking and you just let your mind wonder the ideas come in.

I always come up with my ideas outside and then I’ll come back and refine them on the screen, but they never happen sat in front of that laptop. It’s great because Sophie’s been kind of talking about the brand roots, which I always sort of say are really important to get right. Because as you can see now, Sophie’s going out into the world and those things that she formed on that brand exploration day are through into her business. And I loved that it was a collaboration.

I know there was a moment when you looked up and there was like dappled, sunshine and that obviously that fed into the actual brand thing, didn’t it? You started coming up with your brand personality and things like that. Which did you say that you hadn’t experienced or you hadn’t even had a clue about what those things were or what you were standing for before? If somebody goes well, what’s your brand about? What do you want? You suddenly come up with just words. And I suppose up to a point, a lot of the time you come out with the buzzwords that people expect you to say. And it’s like I’m this and I’m that. But actually doing it out in nature and having to find things that sort of represent your brand, that was really interesting.

S: So, as you say, the dappled lights. All of a sudden as I was wandering along, I thought this is it, because we were walking through trees and there was dappled light, but in the field in front of us, it was really bright sunshine. And I thought, that’s not me.

This is me. Because there’s the light and the shade in your life, light and dark. I’m more about helping people and helping them step out into the spotlight rather than it’s all about me. I’m there to support. It was really interesting. And another thing was there was this twig, a very straight twig, and I picked it up and thought “this is me”. Because it was a very straight twig, straightforward, simple, honest, what you see is what you get. I think that was it. It was quite refreshing because you suddenly start thinking far deeper about what your brand personality is. And when the business is you, I think a lot of the time it can be quite hard to actually unpick who you are as well, because you think, well I’m kind, I’m empathetic, but actually what does that mean and how does that translate? It was really interesting to dig down a lot deeper and really connect to it.

C: How would you say that you thought about branding? I mean, before we approached this. Because I think some people are quite intimidated by it and some people absolutely love it, but don’t know where to stand. So where were you on that spectrum around branding?

S: I do love branding. I have to say I’m a bit of a geek. I love looking at people’s brands, understanding why they’ve done it, the big brands or small brands, and I am really sucked in with the branding. I want to understand why they picked that color, why they picked that font and what it says about their business.

And in a previous role, I went through a rebranding process for the business there. But that was a very different process. That was very much your traditional method, we were just discussing things in an office and I knew the power of branding to connect people to it, including your staff and your customers. But, I didn’t feel as connected to that one as I felt connected to this one at all. This one just blew my mind how I came away. So excited and so clear about everything.

C: So your brand launched about a month ago, And you had your website. Obviously the brand experience was all inspired by the day we did together and it was a true collaboration. So I picked up loads of those things and then came up with like folkloric influence, but modern feeling brand. So Sophie had all that handed to her and now you’re out into the world. So what has the journey been like from getting it to the launch now and going forward?

S: I just love it because I feel so comfortable in it and it’s given me permission to do things that I don’t think I’d normally do. I can talk about subjects that perhaps wouldn’t normally touch on or present things in different ways. It’s actually given me a lot more freedom.

I really like lino prints and squirrels and all sorts of weird, wonderful things on it. But you took it all. You never once thought, oh my this woman is crackers. You took it all, but you integrated it all. So when I see you things I’m like, oh, that’s a reference to that!

It just feels completely like me. And I think at first I was very worried about when I saw it, I thought am I ever going to be able to like live up to this? It looks amazing! But then a close friend looked at it and she said, do you know what? I thought the opposite. I thought it actually lives up to you. You don’t need to do anything. This brand lives up to you. And that for me was, was just fantastic. It gave me permission to be who I wanted to be, a hundred percent. I could then be my full, authentic self. I’ve always said I’m, I’m authentic, but actually I was hiding quite a lot of myself away. It’s just given me so much freedom. 

C: How would you describe to people who are a one person brand, which both of us are, how would you describe to them the difference between having a business and a brand?  Your brand is to be your best! It’s be your best version. So, how would you describe the decision behind that and and does it help? How has it helped you in any way sort of having your brand as a bigger thing than just you? Obviously you are what you do, but there’s also a brand encapsulating all of that.

S: Totally. I’m a really private person, so for me to be putting things on social media, when you look at other people who just run their own business and it is just them, they put an awful lot of their private lives, themselves on there. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but for me, because I am so private and because my family’s so private, it just felt so wrong. I’m quite introverted, I’m quite boring as well, so there’s not much I can show people. So actually having a brand that is separate to me but reflects me, feels a lot safer.

And I realised that I don’t need to be showing all these things about my personal life. I can just go and almost wear this hat and be that Be Your Best Version and go out under that brand. That for me, makes it feel a lot safer. Being a bit of an introvert, you can feel a bit like, what can I share? But this has given me permission to do things.

I do want to grow the business as well, so when I’m further down the line I’m not going to get to that point where I’ve got, and be able to show to my staff if I’m recruiting, this is Be Your Best Version. So actually we’ve already got a business rather than something that is so intertwined with me that we wouldn’t know how to pick it apart. Where do you sit in it? I feel like I’ve gone right around the hands. It’s been quite confusing, it is me, but at the same time, it’s a separate entity. It makes everything feel a lot safer to me and it creates those real boundaries. So that’s work me and then I’ve got my private, personal me. I think at times when you are working for yourself, those boundaries can get very skewed and very blurred. Actually having that separate brand is really helping bring those boundaries home.

C: I found that too. It was never me, It was Creative Wilderness, the brand. I don’t share that much. It gives me a little world to share, but not everything. It just feels a lot less overwhelming because it’s about nature, it’s ethical, it’s sustainable and they’re the things that I share about. I wouldn’t be sharing like what I’m having fatigue and you know, all those things. So there’s a real clarity that comes with that.

And same with when you go in and get your photos done. This is the type of photography I need to be posting and what I need from my brand. And it just makes it nice and clear and it feels like this sort of safe cocoon that you can exist in which is magical.

So, you’ve had quite a few exciting things! I know you did a talk on our brand exploration you spoke about doing a TED Talk. So I’d like to jump into a little bit about your work and how you’re gonna work with people in nature. So what Be Your Best Version is going to be from our brand exploration, how that’s going out into the world this year for the people that you’re gonna be working with.

S: Well there’s some really exciting things on the horizon. So as well as doing the leadership coaching that I’ve been doing for quite a while, because I’ve got a communications engagement background, so I do a lot of leadership coaching around how they can engage people to work better with them.

So that’s been my bread and butter and what I absolutely love. But what I’ve been really excited about is I have now been able to bring in that sustainability and that’s where I’m going to be doing further in the future. So I’ve just done a 12 week course to really help and understand what I’m doing.

And so over the next year what I’m looking at doing is helping small businesses. Because in the UK we are predominantly small businesses. So, helping them understand how to become greener, more ethical and avoid greenwashing because I think that’s the problem at the moment.

Everybody wants this drive towards becoming more environmentally friendly, becoming more climate conscious, which is absolutely fantastic, but it’s happening with such a pace that it’s hard for some businesses to keep up with. Now the big major businesses, the big multinationals they can afford to get huge, expensive consultants in, but for the small businesses, What do you do?

For the likes of me and you, for us to go out, or we have got a vested interest in this anyway, is what we enjoy looking at. But for most business owners, it means going out and actually starting to look at what they can do and really research their options because it’s so easy to slip into that greenwashing without realizing.

C: And your visuals are quite earthy, aren’t they? But they’re vibrant and we used a muted red. Were you expecting that when it arrived?

S: I wasn’t quite sure what was going to come out at all. But, when I saw the color palette, certainly the red, I realised I had never even considered the red before. It works and it is just so beautiful. Because it seemed to have echoes of almost like the National Trust. When I looked at it, that’s what I was feeling. But when I thought actually the businesses that it brings to mind are businesses that are protecting our heritage and our green spaces and everything else. And then I thought, actually it is perfect. It is really what I need to be. But, I’d never have picked that color palette out left to my own devices. God only knows what to come up with!

C: You’re amazing because you really trusted me and you gave me creative freedom. I could take everything that you spoke through in your vision and, and visualize that for you. Branding can feel a little bit scary for new business owners and it can feel quite a big investment. Did it feel like that for you when you were just exploring the options to rebrand?

S: It did feel like a big investment. But I knew at the same time it was definitely going to be worth it. Because like I say, having worked in marketing communications engagement roles in the past, I knew the importance of branding and getting it right and how it portrays you to your customers before you’ve even said a word.

A lot of the time they can look at it and think yes or no, because I know there are certain things that if I see on a website, certain colors or something, it makes me think that this might not be for me. It is just certain feelings that it evokes. So it’s important that the branding is right. It’s introducing you before you’ve even spoken to people. I think although it feels like a big investment, what it gives back to you, well you just get so much from it. It’s so important to get it right and we can all go on Canva and create something, but the problem is then you’d probably end up finding somebody else has got a very similar logo, or it is not really you.

And at the end of the day, I always think it’s best when it comes to branding to leave it in the hands of the professionals because they just get it and it is probably the most important investment I think anybody can have in their business, If you’ve got your branding right, it just makes everything else flow. It really, really does.

C: Definitely. Things like marketing are a lot easier when you know what your brand is, what words you’re going to use, who you’re trying to attract, and all that type of thing. So, what’s next? Have you got any exciting things coming up over the next year that you can share with us?

S: Well, I’m looking into creating a bit of a green team, like I say. So it’s a way of supporting all the local, all the small businesses in the UK. So at the moment I’m really in early stages of that. I’m having lots of conversations with people to understand what they want and how they want it.

That’s something that’s really exciting and really firing me up. And then it’s always great to meet new people, so it’s always nice when you get the new clients in, chatting to them, and then the referrals and it’s just ex exciting. I love the sound.

C: Where would be the best place to head and find you online?

S: Well they can find me on Instagram under @bybversion, I’m on LinkedIn and of course my very, very beautiful website, which is be your

C: Head over to Sophie’s website and see the branding and beautiful photography as well that Sophie had taken. Which really looks amazing. And if you are a small business and you’re looking for some coaching or you need some advice around sustainability, then head over there! Sign up to keep updated on things.

S: Hopefully some talks and some DIY courses are coming through as well. And of course I’ve got a book, I’m writing a book at the moment, I’m right in the middle of it, so that’s in November. Lots of things going on at the moment. Lots and lots and lots of plates that I’m spinning, but it’s all really exciting.

C: You’re really inspired. It feels like there’s a vision and there’s all these amazing things that are coming to you. It all sounds very exciting! I wish I wanted to write a book so early on, but I always feel like maybe in 10 years, maybe later and that type of thing.

Is there any top little coaching nugget you could share with people maybe getting out into nature that you could give them to spend, maybe one activity they could do that you think is quite powerful to do, that you’ve used in your coaching?

C: I think really basic is just getting out into nature. Just going out, spending a bit of time there. I think that there’s research that shows just spending 15 minutes out in nature without your phone. So you take your phone with you by all means, but don’t look at it, don’t be talking to people on it. That really starts calming you down, helps your nervous system and everything else. Just actually getting out into nature is great, but walking and talking is always really fantastic.

C: This is quite a hard question to just do it in one. But could you share a top branding tip to people who might be in a similar position to you, or before you rebranded,

S: Get an expert in.

C: This is a great tip.

S: Yeah, I think when you are looking at the branding, really think about who you are, what you know, what customers you want to attract. I think it is a case of getting an expert in but not just necessarily the first person you come across, really chat to different people. Find that right person that you think this person’s got me, because when you know they’ve got you then it just comes naturally. Whereas, when I was looking at branding I spoke to some other people and I thought, I don’t think they’d get me. And I dread to think what they’d have thought if I’d given them lino cuts and squirrels, whatever else.

That’s it, and it is really important, if you can afford it, to get somebody in, it is a big investment, but it is so worth it. You are the expert on the branding. Really think about what you want to say and how you want to portray yourself. I think it’s a great thing even for anyone you’re looking at. I look at people to help me with other aspects, and just really notice how you respond and the type of people you are picking out and are you influenced by the brand? And like you say, you go on a website and you feel like I don’t resonate with those colors. Or, you can start to notice what you are resonating with and then think about, is my brand attracting those people or am I giving people the right feelings? And definitely check out the portfolio as well. Because when I looked at yours, I just loved everything.

I thought, if she gave me anything along these lines, I would love every single one. Whereas other portfolios I looked at, some of them were very similar. So all the designs were kind of very similar colors, and those colors aren’t me. So, do research and speak to people, look at the portfolio and make sure that you feel comfortable with that person. And I think that that’s the key to finding the right person, finding the right expert.

C: Oh, thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I feel like we could have chatted on for ages and ages.

But yes, thank you Sophie. If you want to discover more about Sophie than the notes below, so you can go and browse her beautiful website and see if you can look at the hidden symbolism. And you have shared some on your Instagram as well, so if you’re intrigued to learn a bit more about like the symbolism behind it. Sophie’s brand, she’s written a wonderful post about all that. But thank you for joining for the brand story and look forward to catching up again soon.


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