I’ve done a lot of branding work over the years and enjoy it immensely. Like holding a mirror up to an organization, it allows leadership to ask meaningful questions and find out how the organization is viewed by those who are important to it.
Sometimes it shocks; more often, it’s pleasantly surprising.
I recently learned something very poignant about branding, in a very personal fashion. I caught up with a dear friend of many years ago when he was in town attending a seminar. It had been almost 20 years since we’d last seen one another in upstate New York.
Since then, he’s built an impressive career in education, has his Captain’s license, moved to the Boston area and is raising two wonderful kids with his amazing wife. I’ve continued my work in marketing and PR, moved to Atlanta, got married and am raising two great kids of my own.
A lot’s changed.
But it dawned on me after a couple of PBRs with him that his brand hasn’t.
Hanging with Todd in the ‘hood was like a step back in time. While our lives have evolved, his essence has not. He’s as likeable, lovable, funny, intelligent and respectful as he was almost two decades ago. He’s a fabulous father, a wonderful mentor, a loving husband and the kind of guy who always takes the extra step to help someone else. If you are ever in dire straits and need assistance, Todd’s your man.
In marketing terms, he has a great brand. A powerful reason why he’s got a great brand is that there’s nothing artificial or staged about Todd. He is exactly as you see him. In the context of social media; he’s authentic.
That’s critically important to a brand, because branding goes far beyond push marketing. It’s about being true to what you are (or hope to be) as an organization.
You can’t fake real, although many try. Be true to your reality and your aspirations.
If you can’t, no amount of PR can help.
It was great to see you again, Todd. I aspire to your brand, my friend.