Building A Brand: 3 Key Learnings

I’ve been designing and stewarding brands with for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations since leaving Apple in the early 1990’s. If you use the internet, you’ve likely come across some of the work; Symantec (formerly VeriSign), TinyPrints (acquired by Shutterfly), Zenfolio (acquired by,,, eBay Bucks, Whole Foods and others). It has taken me nearly 25 years to put these learnings to paper and share them. I invite you to share them as well…

Learning No. 1: Leave Your Ego At The Door

Gather a lot of input from several sources—internal and external—to help define your organization’s brand. Branding is an inclusive process demanding many points of view. Seek out those individuals that challenge the brand’s vision, mission, and promise—make it a goal to convert them into brand believers and evangelists.

Learning No. 2: Always Go Big

Be bold. It requires courage to put a stake in the ground and broadcast your unique position within a competitive landscape. Pursue those ideas that stretch your comfort level as an exercise before discounting them. Commit to the process and imagine your brand success growing even larger than you can currently comprehend. When the time comes for suitors to purchase your company and/or brand, you will be credited as a visionary and thankful that you built a strong foundation.

Learning No. 3: Never Follow

Being inspired by another’s sense of style and self is stimulating. In building a brand, it is perhaps more important to be the one who inspires and changes perceptions. Why? Because humans take note of change makers and we hunger for learning about another’s experience—hence the existence of social media. Perform the due diligence, test the brand “love” before disregarding a good idea, and pay attention to when others zig—so that you can zag.

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