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!)