The secret to a great brand.
“It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to. ~ J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
A recent email from what appears to be a mindfulness organization caught my attention with this enticing subject line: The Secret to a Great Brand
That was sarcasm. Anyway, the sender went on to write:
“You have a very good brand,” someone told me a while back.
While I think it is good to be respected, the word brand made me curious.
For years, companies had brands, but somewhere along the way, people started to see themselves as brands!
A brand asks, “How do I get others to believe the image I want to project to the world?” That is our brand.
But I think it helps to ask, “What is our motivation? Is our intention to be of service … or is it to glorify the self?”
That’s when I started to roll my eyes. The email ended with this goody-goody conclusion, which sounds a lot like brand bypassing:
Our “brand” will be respected because we never focused on it.
Really? Talk about being unenlightened.
If you’re reading this and you’re a subscriber, you know I’ve written various articles and a few books about branding, and I’ve advised many of the world’s greatest organizations.
I wrote my first book on the subject seventeen years ago, so I really shouldn’t be saying this again. But here goes.
A brand is not an image or a name or a logo. A brand is an idea. It’s a personal, mental simulation of a potential value exchange. A brand is…
You know what? I was right the first time. There’s no need to endlessly repeat myself.
If you’re interested, I’ve dug up an article that I wrote in 2004 and posted it on my website. I haven’t made a single change, and so I’ll leave it to you to decide if I was naive and missed something (or a lot), or if times have changed the validity of my argument.
You’ll also notice, from my colorful choice of words, that I was pretty snarky back then (sorry, Tom Peters). Here’s the link:
🦃 Random information for the month of November
* A Minnesota gardener produced a jacked-up Jack-o’-Lantern. Having grown the largest pumpkin in US history, at 1,160 kg (2,250 lb), Travis Gienger carved a glowing, leering eagle out of it.
* A quarter of US adults under 30 now get their news from TikTok.
* New Zealand has proposed taxing the greenhouse gasses that farm animals produce from burping and urinating in a bid to tackle climate change.
* California is about to beat out Germany in GDP. The US’s Golden State will become the world’s fourth-largest economy.
* A first-of-its-kind panel organized by NASA opened a study of what the government calls “unidentified aerial phenomena,” commonly termed UFOs, bringing together experts from scientific fields ranging from physics to astrobiology.
* Elon Musk sold a perfume called “Burnt Hair.” He made $1 million in a matter of hours.
* Wildlife populations have dropped nearly 70% in the past 50 years. In area rich in biodiversity like Latin America and the Caribbean, the WWF recorded losses as high as 94%.
* Companies deployed 89 different apps on average last year, up from 58 in 2015. At large employers, that figure is now 187. A recent study of 20 teams across three big employers found that workers toggled between different apps and websites 1,200 times each day. The researchers dubbed it the “toggling tax,” but it’s better known among psychologists as context switching — a habit that makes it hard to focus and, over time, stresses us out.
* A pair of Levi’s from the 1880s fetched $76,000 at auction.
* National Fossil Day in the US falls on the same day as World Arthritis Day.
* There’s a mint chocolate craze going on in South Korea. Everything from burgers and steamed buns to bar soap and toothpaste is getting the “mint choco” treatment.
* McDonald’s limited-edition adult Happy Meal toys are listed for as much as $300,000 on eBay.
* Italy’s Uffizi Galleries are suing the French fashion house Jean Paul Gaultier after the company’s unauthorised use of images of Botticelli’s Renaissance masterpiece The Birth of Venus to adorn a range of clothing products.
* Enzymes that rapidly break down plastic bags have been discovered in the saliva of wax worms, and could revolutionize recycling.
* Plastic recycling should give way to refilling and reusing strategies. Only around 5% of plastic waste produced in the US was recycled last year.
* A water startup proved there’s a thirst for edgy packaging. Liquid Death is now valued at $700 million.
* The Onion filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court. Their very serious argument in defense of parody is also seriously funny.
* The hottest place in our solar system is not the Sun, as you might think, but a machine near a south Oxfordshire village called Culham.
* There could be a cancer vaccine within the next decade. The team behind Pfizer’s covid jab say they’ve had some “breakthroughs.”
👁 Take a look
David Latimer first planted his bottle garden in 1960 and last watered it in 1972 before tightly sealing it shut “as an experiment.” Read more.
🤔 Think about this
“You are precisely as big as what you love and precisely as small as what you allow to annoy you.” ~ Robert Anton Wilson
“Whenever you are not honoring the present moment by allowing it to be, you are creating drama.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
“We will lose everything we love, including our lives — so we might as well love without fear, for to fear a certainty is wasted energy that syphons life of aliveness.” ~ Hannah Arendt
☝️ And don’t forget
I’d love to hear from you. (I read all messages and try to respond.) Reach out with any news, questions or comments, or simply to say hi: email@example.com (or use the contact form).
Until next time, chill!
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