My Brand Manifesto

There are branding pros of every stripe. Some come from corporate marketing, others from graphic design. Their approach is as critical as their skill set. Here are my ten commandments of branding.

1. Your brand is not a website, a logo, or a tagline.

It’s what you and your work, product, or service mean to other people.

2. There is no such thing as a boring topic.

A topic is neutral; what makes it interesting is the take on that topic.

3. Authentic is an effect, not a goal.

When you “try” to be authentic, you cease to be. Instead, align your efforts and actions with your beliefs—and get busy doing, making, and offering something of value to others.

4. It’s one thing to be passionate; it’s another to be compelling.

The world does not owe you its attention because you care about a thing. It’s your job to give them a reason to care.

5. Pick a fight with old ideas.

This is the key to coming up with fresh, innovative ideas. We want to be challenged, delighted, surprised. Start with up-ending old assumptions.

6. Don’t mistake broad for big.

It’s a mistake to water down or weaken your message in an attempt to appeal to more people. Always aim for potent and particular.

7. Don’t be afraid of focus.

Think of your niche not as a narrowing options, but a sharpening of your edge.

8. You don’t have to be the first or only one doing a thing.

The fact that there are others in your field or industry trying to do the same thing is good; it means there’s demand.

9. Empowering people is not a brand.

Everyone wants to empower people—be it a financial institution, a yoga studio, or a life coach. Same goes for helping and inspiring. Consider it a given—and get beyond it.

10. Everyone’s got something worth saying.

It’s true. Even if you’re not sure what that is at first. The struggle to articulate it is not an unsolvable problem, but part of the process.