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Visual representation of ikigai with intersecting circles and the ikigai at the center

How Your Ikigai Can help You With Your Branding?

You must be wondering, what’s the connection between ‘ikigai’ and Branding.

What is ‘ikigai’ anyways?  What’s Anjuli trying to convey here.

First I will explain Ikigai and then I will show you the connection between Ikigai and your branding or brand storytelling.

What is ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese concept of living a long and happy life. Ikigai definition is composed of two words ‘ iki’ means life and ‘gai’ means value or worth and so it essentially means reason for being.

What is ikigai
Ikigai meaning

It is the reason why you wake up each morning, and look forward to your life’s work even when you are miserable.  A powerful concept which is the secret of 100s of centenarians in Okinawa and other provinces of Japan where people live long, healthy and happy lives. 

Let’s go a bit deeper into ‘ikigai. 

Ask yourself these questions: 

What do you love doing? (think of times when you were so absorbed in doing something that you lost all sense of time because you were 100% involved in it for the love of it)

What are you good at? (this is different from what you love. For example, I love to sing, but I am not good at it. Not yet. 🙂 As there is always room for possibility) 

What can you get paid for? (This is what I can do in return for a payment. A job.) 

What does the world need? (This is a larger than life cause that this world needs. Think sustainable living, think global warming) 

Four key questions to ask to find your ikigai
Questions to ask in order to find your ikigai

You will discover at the intersection of all these four ideas when represented in a venn diagram, a few different things. For example, at the intersection of what you are good at and what you love to do, lies your passion. In this state of being you will feel satisfied but at the same time a feeling of uselessness will creep in. 

At the intersection of what you are good at and what you can get paid for lies your profession. You may feel comfortable yet sometimes your job may lose meaning and make you feel a sense of void and an emptiness.

At the intersection of what you love and what the world needs is your mission. This gives you a sense of purpose and delight but no wealth. That’s hardly sustainable, you may argue.

And at the intersection of what you can get paid for and what the world needs is your vocation. Here you might wonder a bit like a did, what’s the difference between vocation and profession? Vocation is a bit like what you might do for a social enterprise to earn money but your heart is not in it. You may end up feeling uncertain about your future even though you are happy about doing something that the world needs while making your buck.

Visual representation of ikigai with intersecting circles for each of the 4 key questions
Visual representation of ikigai with intersecting circles for each of the 4 key questions

Now, you haven’t yet found your ‘ikigai’. It is what you are likely to find at the intersection of all these four circles. When there is convergence of what you are good at, what you love to do, what you can get paid for and what the world needs, that’s the ‘sweet spot’ to find your ‘ikigai’- your reason for being. 

Visual representation of ikigai with intersecting circles and the ikigai at the center
Visual representation of ikigai with intersecting circles and the ikigai at the center

This is a fascinating concept and in the original concept, ikigai is not so much associated with making money. It is more about finding that thing that can sustain you lifelong with joy, fulfillment and satisfaction.  However, in the western interpretation of the concept, money is an important addition. 

We can’t deny the power of money in life. It’s what makes life convenient and pays your bills. But it alone cannot get you a sense of happiness, meaning and fulfillment. There’s got to be a confluence of all the other dimensions of ikigai to live a fulfilling life.

The best part about this concept is that it is not set in stone. It can change. It can evolve as you evolve. You need to sit down and reflect from time to time on these key questions and you may find yourself in a different place or ‘sweet spot’ at different times and stages of your life. That’s the beauty of it all. Life is a continuum. A journey of discovery and evolution. 

Now let’s talk about the connection between Branding and Ikigai.

Your brand is more than your logo and colors and fonts. It is how you convey your purpose, mission, values, your reason for existence to your target audience. And it is hardly possible to clearly convey your brand’s message without having clarity yourself.

Now can you see a connection already? Finding your brand or business’s ikigai is what will help you achieve that clarity and it is what will keep you going even during difficult times.

As Simon Sinek says, people don’t buy into your what. They buy into your why. It is how you stand apart from others in the crowd of those providing similar product or services as you.

Ikigai is the best framework that will allow you to distill and find your why. It is what will allow you to align what your brand/business loves to do, what you are good at, what this world needs and what you can get paid for. It is what will help you to find that ‘sweet spot’ to keep rocking and weathering the storms that are likely to come in the course of your business journey. It is what will help your employees walk to work with a spring in their step, wanting to make a difference. It is what will retain them and prevent them from switching to the next best paying job.

Don’t do branding. Go find your brand/business’s ikigai first.

I use this concept in the clarity module of my Instagram Influence Mastery 2022 and Beyond online course.  Do check it out if Instagram is important for your branding and business.  It is available on Udemy as well as on my own platform.

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  • Anjuli Gopalakrishna

    I am digital marketer who is passionate about helping small businesses with 'out of the box' ideas to acquire new leads and customers leveraging digital marketing technology. I have a background in the fashion industry in marketing and merchandising with leading brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, J C Penney, and Li and Fung. I am a certified facilitator with ACTA certification from Singapore WDA. I provide consulting, digital marketing and training services to companies to help them make the most of digital marketing.

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