your brand: why, who, what, how, when, & where

This week we’re talking about your brand, particularly bonsai-ing it.

This post will serve as an outline for our #SuperSweetSeptemberSeries. Lucky you. Lucky us. So what can you expect? The next three blogs will be coming at you like:


Finding Your [Freaking-Fantastic] Foundation: Addressing the Why and Who of Your Brand


Governance Grows Greatness: Addressing the What and the How of Your Brand


Rubber Meets Road: Addressing the When and the Where of Your Brand


We’re about to throw some theory at you. There will be light reading. There might be TEDTalks. Settle down and settle in.

We’re going Geek.



are you doing this in the first place?

We’re about to go all Simon Sinek on you. In a nutshell, Sinek asserts that in order to inspire, leaders should start their mission and the recruitment of commitment to it with why. Start with Why is his aptly named book. Why? (See what we did there?) The why behind our actions is what creates the connection between our actions and others. When people are easily able to identify and relate your purpose to your why…they are convertible and they can become Believers – Believers in Your Big Idea.

You can see Sinek’s Start with Why TEDTalk here. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Here is an interview with 


are you anyway?

In Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From, he explores the concept of innovation from a number of angles – the Good [Big] Idea Generators, The Big Idea itself, and the time and space in which the innovation comes to life. Big Ideas fit the time and place in which they exist, building on the structure and innovation of others. As you explore your brand, we encourage you to think in this context. Innovation, including brand innovation, is aware of its place and potential in its singular space. Be aware.

If you’ve read any of our blogs before, you’ve probably arrived at the conclusion that self-discovery (brand-wise) is (vitally) important to us. Knowing who you are as a company is the central thing you must check off your list before proceeding with your Big Idea, your start-up, or your ten year old company. Get it straight and then proceed forward (straight-forward, as it were).

Tune in next week for the continuation and expansion of the ideas of Why and Who and our take on relating this all to your brand development (because of course).

You can watch Steven’s TEDTalk here. You can follow him on Twitter. Check out his Medium. Read a Wired Magazine article interview with him here. And we would be remiss if we did not include his NPR interview re: Everything Bad is Good For You.



are you going to do?

Seeing What Others Don’t by Gary Klein is extolled by the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, who in his review of the book penned “No one has taught me more about the complexities and mysteries of human decision-making than GK.” 

Integral to setting your brand apart and on a mission all its own is outlining what actions you plan to take to a) create a business model, b) craft a differentiating marketing strategy, and c) navigate your niche through competitors and politics. Ideally, you would be Someone Who Sees What Others Don’t – anticipating popularity and the Contagion Factor before constructing something to elicit those responses. Nailing down exactly what is that you plan to do as a business is imperative to governing your communication as you share your brand.

You can see what other have been seeing Klein saying over on Twitter. His biography on Psychology Today's website can be found here. His Wikipedia page is here. We would describe his Internet footprint as light.


will you share?

If you’re familiar with Jonah Berger and Contagious, you’re familiar with his STEPPS to virality: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. Your wheels are already starting to spin with new ideas for your brand communication, aren’t they? Well, if you’ve stuck with us this long and haven’t glazed over yet, that is. Think of the implications of these steps (STEPPS?) for your brand and the essential next step of sharing it with others. Like woah, man.

This can get you started and take you a long way (catapult your brand into the stratosphere, as we like to say). The key is to make these ideas actionable. We will tie your What and How together into an actionable brand governance plan which will trigger your audience through empathetic, consistent content.

Otherwise, we'll BRB (be right back, you non-millennials) on 9.25 to dive deeper into your What and How.

You can find Jonah Berger’s Talk at Google here. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn. Here's a Scientific American digest of Berger's concepts. Lastly, what purports to be a look "Inside the Curious Mind of Jonah Berger" from Wharton.



should you connect?

In his book Writing on the Wall, Tom Standage digests the last 2,000 years and explores human nature’s attraction to social media. If you define social media as means by which people connect and share, you quickly realize that humans have been leveraging social media for millennia. When you understand the key reason why people are online and engaging is to connect, this will influence where you choose to focus your engagement efforts and what content you put out to represent and further mold your brand.

If it is connection that is the primary purpose of people’s utilization of social media, then that truth should influence every decision you as a brand make about where to plant and cultivate a presence. You must invite engagement and insight from your market to allow them to fully experience and empathize with your brand and its mission.

Standage's day job is Deputy Editor of the Economist NBD. You can find him on LinkedIn. Here is his book that we always pick up in the bookstore and should certainly buy but haven't yet.


will you engage?

Outliers: The Story of Success
By Malcolm Gladwell

There are tons of resources, based on aggregated data, on when you should post what content on where. This easily found places like herehere and here. A lot of what you should be doing in your own brand communication will be based on these broad strokes, but you’ll need to find out when your particular audience is online and active and ready to absorb your content.

What we want to focus on is the place your content occupies in space, on The World Timeline, in history. It's time to break out the Gladwell Flagship: Outliers. Are you relevant because you are timely? In his book, Malcolm Gladwell asserts that it is people's and businesses' time and geography that has a large impact on their own impact and success. Central to brand management is continuously taking inventory of what space your brand occupies. The best brands are the ones that grow and morph (adaptive in a classic Darwinian sense) with the evolution of their markets. Listening is the key to accomplishing this goal and for communicators, sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do.

You can find Malcolm and his 'fro all over Twitter. Listen to his epic podcast, Revisionist History. He has written for The New Yorker since 1996 which especially makes us drool. An essay from 2010 outlines why he believed a revolution would not be tweeted. 


next week on the blog:

Finding Your Foundation will cover the Why and Who of your brand.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook and feel free to engage us here or on social about your brand and the bonsai-ing of it.

*And just so you know, if you purchase one of these genuinely enjoyable and broadening reads through one of the links we've provided, we'll get a small (really small) kickback. This in no way affects the price you will pay. Truthfully, we just wanted to experiment with the program in order to effectively consult our blogging/entrepreneurial clients. We bought these books with our own money. None of these authors know we exist and neither do their sellers.*