The term branding probably had not been coined yet, but my older sister gave me some great advice on the topic when I was in high school. As I packed for a trip to the beach with my parents and younger brother, my more experienced, college-aged sister advised me to always wear the same bathing suit so the boys I met would be able to recognize me more easily from day to day.
Genius! Unfortunately, our days in the sunshine were few because it was a combination business trip and mini-vacation for my business-owner parents. And towing a sibling eight years younger than me didn’t do much for my cute-boy search. Although I never got to fully realize the potential of that bikini branding wisdom, it was a marketing lesson I’ve never forgotten.
Much to their detriment, many individuals and businesses have never learned the value of branding. It is, of course, more than having a logo and slogan. It’s all about understanding who you are, what you value, how you interact with others and the experience you create for them.
A strong brand goes a long way in helping target audiences quickly grasp key characteristics and it enables that entity to stand out in a crowd.
Using our beach theme, we can compare responses a brand gets to assumptions we make as we relax on the shore and watch people go by. Pale executives, farmer tanned young men, dedicated fitness fanatics, blissfully retired grandparents, imbibing college students, young sweethearts, and wide-eyed children parade up and down the beach. We make instant assumptions, many of which we would find to be off base should we happen to strike up a conversation.
Whether going to the beach or a board meeting, it’s valuable to take a good hard look in a full-length, three-way mirror every now and then.
Most organizations would benefit from an appraisal in which we ask:
And maybe, as the traditional summer vacation season comes to a close, it would be a good idea to conduct that research and introspection with a little sand between our toes, just for added inspiration. (Wishful thinking!)