The word “brand” is derived from the Old Norse word, “brandr,” which means “to burn.” It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark (or brand) onto their products. When some people think about branding, they harken back to the old Wild West days when ranchers branded their cattle. This process still happens today, because it helps both the owner and the public identify whose cattle belongs to whom. Using a hot brand to sear the ranch’s logo onto the side of a cow leaves a lasting mark that everyone can see and remember. Fortunately, building a brand for your book, business, or non-profit isn’t as painful, but it creates the same helpful benefits.
Since everyone has a finite brain, people can’t remember everything that they encounter. The average person’s brain is swirling with so much information that they can’t keep track of all the ideas, products, and services around them. So, a brand acts as your ally by creating a mental shortcut that makes you easier to remember. Use the following seven principles to help create a memorable brand that keeps you in the mind of your readers, customers, or donors:
1. You already have a brand whether you like it or not, and it’s usually negative unless you proactively control it. People are branding you everyday, because we all have finite brains and we need a quick way to recall everything around us. Thus, a brand taps into the mental function of remembering things. If you let other people brand you, the outcome will usually be negative, because people don’t fully know who you are. Therefore, you must actively manage your brand to create a perception among leaders of your uniqueness, value, and expertise. Don’t assume that people’s perception of you is positive. It may not be.
2. A great brand should make you stand-out from the myriad of other options. Otherwise, there’s no point in having a brand. This may sound obvious, but many people still overlook this fact. You need a brand that is catchy, memorable, and easy for people to say to someone else. I recommend that you keep your brand tagline to no more than six words. For instance, the brand tagline that I created for my consulting company, WildFire Marketing, is five words: “Spread Your Message Like Wildfire.”
3. A great brand generates a sense of appealing curiosity. Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act. Your brand should generate a positive emotional connection. If you can’t make readers and leaders feel a magnetic attraction, then your brand is bland.
4. A great brand communicates the kind of results you produce for others. It’s not enough to simply have a clever catch-phrase or tagline. Your brand must express how you make other people’s lives better. In the corporate world, top brands achieve this goal. For example, Wal-Mart’s brand is “Save Money…Live Better.” This phrase tells me that my life will better, because I’ll be saving money. Home Depot says, “You can do it. We can help.” Do you see the implied result? Consider the value-laden expression in these brand taglines that I’ve created for some of my clients: “The Stress-Buster,” “Love Wise,” “Storm-Proof Your Life,” and “Strength for the Soul.” The taglines are memorable, and they reflect results.
5. A great brand establishes you as the best choice, such as the “Cadillac” or “Nordstroms” of the industry. Besides being unique, your brand should position you as the best option. When your brand becomes synonymous with quality, then you’ve got a powerful marketing force acting on your behalf.
6. A great brand must reflect your own passion. That’s because you will be solely responsible to get it in front of everyone. No one else can market your brand better than you. It’s like trying on a new dress or a suit. You buy the one that best fits you and makes you feel confident. When you create your brand, you must feel comfortable, positive, and excited to share it with the public.
7. Your brand must appeal primarily to people who have the decision-making power and money to work with you. If your brand appeals to leaders, then you’re on the right track. If not, then it will hinder the growth of your business. Remember that your brand does NOT have to please everyone, including your friends – because your friends don’t hire you for major projects, speaking engagements, or business deals.
When you create a powerful brand, you position yourself as the go-to option for a specific need, genre, or interest. This recognition helps separate you from the pack, stay in people’s minds, and stand out in a crowded marketplace. Don’t be bland. Use these seven principles to build an unforgettable brand.