Risk, Branding, and 11 Ways to Rise Above the Noise

What do George Clooney, Paris Hilton, Leo DiCaprio, a British bloke who loves to rant and country club chef have in common? Read David Brier's latest blog to connect the dots.

Branding takes risk. Basic fact.

If you're going to do something to stand out, the odds are you're likely looking at doing something nobody has done before. Or, at the very least, presenting what you have in a way nobody has previously thought of. Well, if nobody's done it before, how can we look to what's been done in order to simply repackage it as "something new." There's a fly in that logic's ointment.

Oftentimes, I find this approach (besides thinking in totally different and unexpected ways) takes quite a bit of courage along with immersing oneself in today's culture (the trends, activities and habits that make up today's approach to living).

So, to introduce the following information, here's something brand new for my (and possibly any) Fast Company blog:

This blog's feature presentation
This Thanksgiving weekend, I wrote 11 points/insights/revelations/guiding principles that I've codified and used over the last 30 years to help our clients kick some major branding butt. (Consider this my Thanksgiving gift of appreciation back to you.)

11 Points to Rise Above the Noise

  1. The same old rules will get the same old results.
  2. Those who did change the world didn't think they couldn't.
  3. Life is like software. Upgrades are available.
  4. Rules enable one to follow. Knowledge enables one to lead.
  5. There is little worse a company can do to reduce its influence than to have something that is different with a pitch that sounds the same as everyone else's.
  6. If your brand is using clichés, you're promoting your category, not your brand.
  7. Want to know what to expect of people? "Listen" to their actions, not to their words.
  8. Clichés can ruin a business faster than a roomful of politicians.
  9. Is your brand a national treasure or a historical monument to days gone by?
  10. A mind is a wonderful thing: You're either watching reruns or you're previewing the coming attractions. Whichever one you're watching is what others will be viewing tomorrow—with you as the star.
  11. Social media isn't a brand strategy. Social media is a channel, not a brand strategy.

The acid test
After writing down the above list, I decided to take my own advise and check out some possible ways to s-t-r-e-t-c-h, exploring culture and putting my brand in the hot seat.

So, I surfed the Web, looking for inspiration, where culture was sizzling with life. I happened upon an interesting site. I looked it over and saw pockets of energy (along with a lot of useless crap too, but, hey, that's life) and chose video as the medium to explore.

I came away with four videos promoting different aspects of my brand (my Fast Company blog which you're reading right now, me as the brand expert, my firm and my book). And I am sharing them with you here, as a simple way to show what you can do to explore new avenues for your brand.

The hot seat
The first video you see above, the Fast Company blog post intro inspired by the classic Hollywood blockbuster movie intro. Not bad at all. I got a chuckle and a thrill out of that one.

Okay, what else could I put in the hot seat?

Well, there was me. So, I ran across a "news" story video and two very different fellows who would "pitch" me or our firm.

Here is the news story treatment:

All of a sudden, I could barely walk the streets without being asked for an autograph. How Brad and Angelina put up with it on a routine basis, I'll never know.

The next thing I could "test out" in the hot seat was my firm. There were two people offering the service of creating a video for a business. I checked out which seemed it might match my firm's brand the best and here are those results. The first I lovingly call the "Lazy Brands Suck" video.

This second one I call "Passion" for obvious reasons when you see the star of this video.

And for the final test of this exercise, I asked our new British friend above to do one more about my book (I've got to admit, I LOVE this one. I LMAO each time I've viewed it), just to get his high-energy take on brand elevation. I think he took it to a whole new level.

My takeaway from this exercise
I found it was refreshing to have others interpret "my brand." It gave a new view and a new twist. Not sure where it will take me, but I found immersing myself in some culture outside my normal circles opened up some interesting avenues, avenues that can help break any brand from stagnation.

How can you use the above 11 principles to elevate your brand and break new ground?

Recipient of over 320 national and international design and branding recognitions and awards, David Brier is an award-winning brand identity designer, author, and branding expert. His firm's work has won the admiration of peers and organizations but has, more importantly, helped clients jump-start their brands in new and innovative ways, even (and especially) when they've failed in previous brand makeovers. Most recently, David's celebrated work for Botanical Bakery was selected for the 2010 Communication Arts Design Annual and will be featured in "The Big Book of Packaging."

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