Brand Essence: Say it in 7

One of the best reads I have experienced this year has been The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry. Anyone who works in a creative field or wants to strengthen his or her creativity should read this book. Unlike many business books, The Accidental Creative goes beyond telling you what you should do and provides guidance on how to become “prolific, brilliant, and healthy.” I have been a fan of Henry’s Accidental Creative podcast for some time; it is a treasure trove of useful ideas for creatives.

An example of actionable ideas in The Accidental Creative is the concept of a 7-word bio. The idea is simple: distill what you do and who you are into a 7-word description. I see it as a cross between mission and position. While Henry discusses a 7-word bio as a tool for individuals (ideal for developing one’s personal brand), it has applicability for organizations, too. Drilling down to 7 words forces an organization to strip away grandiose proclamations and get away from wordy mission statements. In other words, cut to the chase and define what we are as an organization. What is the payoff of having a 7-word bio? It provides grounding and focus that guides decisions on what projects you take on and how you manage relationships.

This week, I have challenged students in my marketing communications class to develop a 7-word bio for their personal brand. It is a challenge I am taking on, too. What are your 7 words?

Brett Favre on Branding

I have a confession to make: I believe I am falling under the spell of Brett Favre. I have resisted the urge for years, but I have finally succumbed to his magical powers. As I watched the nearly 40-year-old quarterback carve up his former team, the Green Bay Packers, I thought about the qualities Favre exudes. Brett Favre’s mystique offers lessons that can be applied to branding, whether it is personal branding or managing a product brand. Here are four characteristics (would you expect any other number?) of Favre’s personal brand that any brand would benefit from possessing:

1. Distinctive – There are other quarterbacks, some of whom are very good, but there is only one QB with Favre’s style. He is not different for the sake of being different (like Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Ocho Cinco), but he is genuinely different. Relevant difference is a key to winning in business and in life.

2. Consistent – Favre’s performance level has not changed dramatically over the years. His style of play is basically the same, and he shows up to play regardless of pain or injury. Brands must be consistent, too. When one encounters your brand, there should be no question about your identity and values.

3. Passionate – Favre cares deeply about what he does. Maybe that is one reason why he has had difficulty retiring from the game. He digs down and delivered some of his greatest performances when in the spotlight as he was against the Packers on Monday Night Football. Brands with passion resonate with consumers and the public. Authentic passion is noticeable; pretending to be passionate is not necessary!

4. Fun – Why is this guy smiling on the field when there are 11 people trying to hit him and hit him hard? He’s having fun at what he is doing. While carrying out 1-3, never lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing. What’s your purpose? What’s the mission you have set for the organization or yourself?

Thanks, Brett for the branding lesson. Now, if we could only get John Madden’s take on what we can learn about branding from Brett Favre!