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What is Brand?

This is the question I get asked most and the hardest one to answer. It’s hard because, in the marketing world, people have been trained to buy a thing, a widget: I pay you this and you give me that.

But brand is not a thing, it is an idea, a belief system, a way of inviting people into your world and your creation, on their terms. It touches everything you do, and colors everything you say.

So here is the best answer I have to the question, what is brand?

Imagine a grand piano. Flip the top up to reveal 230 wires inside, each tuned to produce one version of one note. Now imagine each of these wires as just one of the many things you want everyone to know about who you are and what you do.

If you are like most business owners, your instinct is to try to press every key, play every note, tell every story. You want people to understand your business as completely as you do. The problem is, all hitting every key does is produce this horrible cacophonous sound that confuses and repels. It’s just too much for anyone to take in and process.

The job of brand – my job – is to spend three months inside your company, learning more about it from more angles than anyone has before and from those 230 wires plucking the small set that, when combined, create a new sound, a sound no one has ever heard before, a story that causes people to not just prick up their ears to listen but to lean forward in anticipation of what comes next.

That is brand. It’s the ability to sift through all the white noise and identify that small set of things that truly sets you apart and enables the people you care about to embrace you and assign you a place in their lives, on their own terms.

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