Branding Is Like Sculpting

Someone once told me that creating a statue is easy, just throw away all the clay you don’t need. Good advice for branding as well.

Branding requires sacrifice. Companies with successful brands willingly carve away the minutia, and sculpt away those pieces of clay they won’t need. To define a brand persona requires the bravery to remove all the unnecessary clay to sharpen your image. Timidity and indecision will create an organization that will look like, well, an indiscernible lump of clay. Your target audience will view you as through a cloudy lens.

Some organizations believe the path to success is to be all things to all people. A case in point is a potential client that came in to the office for a cup of coffee and a discussion about branding. First thing I was handed was the business card. It listed no less than five different key competencies, all presented in equal weight. They were even listed in alphabetical order so as to make sure not one competency would seem more important than any other. The question was how do they penetrate their target market. They had great capabilities and still couldn’t garner the amount of business the competition does.  Competencies and capabilities are not a brand. They are product offerings. 

Your brand is your story, and how people relate to your organization in rational and emotional ways. Your story needs to be sharp and to the point. Great brands are simple, easy to understand and can be told in a brief elevator conversation.

The simple idea that a sculptor throws away the clay they don’t need came from an artist friend when asked about their creative process. As you work through your creative process to define your brand, be a sculptor. Throw away what’s not important or relevant to your core brand. The challenge will be how much clay and which parts you throw away, but at least you will be on the right track