There is no “and” in “brand”

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Well, technically there is, but this catchy phrase quoted by Andy Sernovitz in today’s Evangelizing Evangelists to Build Your Business and Build Your Brand talk was a great takeaway.  (sign up today to receive access to the recording)  Guy Kawasaki and John Jantsch immediately grabbed on to the phrase, which Andy reminded them was copywritten.  ๐Ÿ™‚

I feel like I have been harping on this theme ever since I started this blog, but the concept is worth repeating over and over again:

Do not convolute your brand, and your business, by trying to be all things to all people.

  • Bill, the Cleveland plumbing specialist AND acupuncturist to the stars
  • Juan, the executive coach  AND expert iguana tamer
  • Linda, the financial planner for growing restaurant businesses AND sunblock consultant to nudist colonies

Andy said on the call that the hardest thing for entrepreneurs to do is to let go of portions of their identity so that they can focus on one specific, targeted brand.

But this is exactly what you have to do if you want to catch the attention of customers, press and web surfers.  Most people think that targeting a specific market niche is limiting and restricts opportunity.  In fact, the opposite is true:  the more specifically you define who you serve, the better chance you have at finding them, and they you.

So while you may be tempted to let the market know that you can organize closets like a pro AND do the quickest manicure in the western hemisphere AND translate legal documents from English to Swahili, please don’t.

Keep your brand specific and targeted.  And, according to the world’s most "practical" marketer John Jantsch, diligently and consistently promote it for the long haul to see good results.

For those on the call, Guy also reminded us that there is a "bra" in "brand," which only proves that you are never too old to resist pithy 12-year-old male humor.

10 Responses to “There is no “and” in “brand””

  1. Your Business (and/or business that employes you) is not unique, but you are. The experience people have with the individual is the brand and that is transferable to different businesses, even at the same time where appropriate.
    Just hope the marketing message and the actual brand is in line…

    What is the brand of the person/company that says they practice excellent customer service, but the consistent feeling is poor customer service?

    Brand Hijack is a good book…

  2. A brand should be based on one clear, simple idea. Your article makes a great point, often forgotten in large corporations where trying to please a bunch of VPs with big egos can ruin the best intentioned branding efforts.

    This principle is also overlooked by some small businesses, especially those that are just starting out, who in an effort to drum up enough business to survive end up projecting themselves as jack of all trades.

    I would strongly recommend reading the excellent book BrandSimple by Allen Adamson. It talks about this specific idea (one brand, one simple message) and provides exciting examples of large corporations that “get it”.

  3. John Dodds says:

    Of course there is – the point is that you don’t wnat to send mixed messages but that doesnt mean there aren’t multiple elements to a brand – albeit not as extreme as your examples.

    But different people perceive the same brand in different ways. They decide. That’s the secret. And since there literally is an and in brand, it’s a terrible catchphrase. Gosh I’m grumpy aren’t I?

    Yeah, you are grumpy John, one of the many reasons we love you.

    You and Alexandra both noted that there is an “and” in “brand” which I tried to note in my opening sentence … “Well, technically there is…”

    What I like about it is that it is very catchy. And it pisses some people off (like you) which is criteria for a good brand, according to those who were on the call. It makes you remember and think about the topic at least!

    I obviously used tongue-in-cheek extreme examples in my post, but the real life ones that my clients or readers wrestle with (like being a coach AND consultant AND freelance writer) can both confuse them and their target audience. Like rules for good writing, I think less is more when it comes to a good brand.

    Feel free to elaborate your thoughts on your blog … can’t wait to hear your strong opinions, since I know you have them!


  4. Actually, there is an “and” in “brand,” but I appreciate the point. In fact, I’ve been guilty of this all-encompassing branding strategy myself and am going to think long and hard about my positioning thanks to this great advice.


    Alexandra Levit
    Author, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College
    Blogger, Water Cooler Wisdom

  5. Mark Silver says:

    Yes, I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. The article Havi quoted from is here:
    Repeat after me: “I have only one business.”

    However, for those who are still quaking in their boots about limiting your focus, especially those of us doing transformational work that could literally help anyone, it’s important to remember that a “brand” so-to-speak, is merely a doorway.

    To have a house, you need walls- that way, the wind and the rain and the snow stay outside, and the heat stays in (it’s getting towards winter here in Oregon).

    However, once you’re in the house, you can go anywhere you want: the kitchen, the living room, etc, etc.

    I’ve worked with clients on all kinds of issues that have come up through our work on their business, and where I feel comfortable working (I do refer some stuff out. :-)) You will get to work with all kinds of people on all kinds of things, but you need a specific door for people to walk through.

  6. Havi Brooks says:

    That was seriously a terrific call! I am so glad to have been able to listen in. It felt like being a fly on the wall at the most interesting lunch ever.

    Nice summarizing too. I think I’ve met every single one of your “examples” at San Francisco SBA events. And been one of them too.

    At the same time, a great point to remember about “no AND in BRAND”(now depositing 50 cents into Andy’s head) is that your business can still contain many facets of you and many offers. It’s all about how you incorporate them and present them.

    Mark Silver of wrote a genius article called “Repeat after me: ‘I have only one business'”.

    I hope he won’t mind me quoting, since I couldn’t find it online:

    “A business exists to help people solve a problem. Not just any person, or just any problem. The same business that fixes holes in your teeth isn’t going to be the same business that fixes potholes in the road.

    If your message is talking to the same kind of people, about the same kind of problem, then no matter how
    radically different the offers are, you can keep it all under one roof.

    Meditation CD. Spiritual healing session. Hot rock massages. Pilates classes. Nutrition consultation. Health strategy session. Spans quite a bit of territory, but
    because it addresses people healing from traumatic injuries, all of these offers connect. One business.”

    Anyway, it seems like it’s about realizing what your central big helping gift to the world is, and then figuring out how to present it and package it so that you can share it with the right people without causing any cognitive dissonance.

    And without forcing them to actually have to imagine you giving financial advice at a nudist colony.

    Havi Brooks

  7. I loved that nugget from the teleseminar too. I think though for many – particularly young professionals – it’s a tough thing to commit your personal brand to one thing.

  8. Tom Volkar says:

    Yes, it’s very difficult to let go any part of your identity to go after a specific niche, especially since targeting makes so much sense. But here’s the other side of this discussion.

    What do you do if thrive on variety? What do you do if at your core you know that you’re happier with multiple interests? It could be that accepting oneself as a variety enthusiast holds the key to eventually finding that targeted niche.

  9. Keith Handy says:

    Fact: you can’t get in touch with your inner child without passing your inner 12-year old along the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. John Jantsch says:

    Pam, Actually Andy said he was going to trademark it! Exhaustive research turns up that maybe I said it first.

    And don’t forget that Guy also asked the panelists what they were wearing – how could you let that slip?