Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media has a great post at his site entitled Brands as Standing Waves. In it, he talks about the fact that copyright might not be nearly as important in the coming years as Trademark. If you read his post, you’ll get the full effect of that statement, but here’s my precis:
Your brand name (your company, YOU) is the conduit through which content flows. Some of your content lives on its own, but it is also largely leveraged against your brand. Thus, you get the countless, “If you like Stephen King, you’ll love _____” type comparisons out there.
The Brands You Trust
First, think about the brands that you trust and love. Are there any? I have a few, in no particular order.
Apple. Firefly (Joss Whedon’s Series). Amazon. Saturn. Seth Godin. Tom Peters. Wacom. Olympus Cameras. Old Navy clothes. Berol markers. Moleskine books.
See how I’m naming brands and not their products. Sure, I love the iPod, but I also have an iMac, and plan to buy a Mac Mini by fall. That’s the gist of this.
YOUR Brand As-Is
If your company were going to look at the sum of you, what would they be saying about your brand. Are you the boss? Are they saying, “I know when ___’s on the job, our missions will be reached.” Are you part of a team? What message is being conveyed by your brand.
Are there “product lines” in your brand that are confusing people? Do you do X-Y-Z good thing, and then 1-2-3 other things that people just keep wondering why you’re doing it? (I’m probably guilty of this for mixing my digital illustrations with my self-improvement stuff. I certainly lost my original readership of fitness friends when I stopped writing daily about running and exercising).
People hate change. I can tell you that. Look at EVERY food product redesign and you’ll see: “New Look. Same Great Taste!” Every single one. Know why? Because people want you to stay a one-trick pony. Oh, but they also want you to stay fresh, change it up, and move with the times. Easy. Right?
Sell The Experience, Not The Product
What can you add to the mix that will stay consistent with what you’re trying to tell the world about you? How can you go beyond creating “products” and help others use what you do/make/say/are to improve THEIR experience? Because here’s the secret of all the brands I mentioned above:
It’s all about me.
Why do I love Apple? Because I like what I do with it. Why do I watch Firefly? Because it makes me happy. It’s all about memememememe.
Look at yourself, at the “brand” you’re providing to the people around you (at work, at home, at your organization of choice). What can you do to make it about THEM. (Your turn comes later).
Get back to me. What does this do for you? What do you think?