Are you an “and” or a BRAND?

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We live in a world where more is better. You walk into any local ice-cream shop and you have 35 flavors from which to choose. You can get your news from the internet, your phone or even the tv while waiting in line at Dunkin Donuts! As consumers we are used to multiple options when buying everything from peanut butter to tennis shoes. On the surface, having more options may seem like a good thing, however, having too many choices can be overwhelming and confusing. Remember, a confused mind never buys.

When it comes to your personal brand, the last thing you want to do is confuse your audience. Studies have shown when consumers are given too many options, they actually shut down and make fewer decisions. As entrepreneurs we often get so excited about growing our businesses, we are tempted to throw in every bell and whistle into our brand identities. This is a mistake. You want to be known as a strong, distinct brand, not an “AND.”

An “and” is someone who does this “and” that, someone who needs a slash in their title. We’ve all met these people. They introduce themselves as a fashionista/business coach or a publisher/yogi. On a personal level it may be interesting to meet someone with varied interests and experiences, but from a branding perspective having a complex identity is disaster. When you are a this “and” that, you create conflict and confusion in the mind of your target audience. Like it or not, it is human nature to categorize and label the people we meet. It helps us remember and recognize them. Isn’t that what we want for our brands as well, to be remembered and recognized?

Here are some tips to go from an “AND” to a great *BRAND*:

1. Group complimentary elements together. If you do have more than one area of expertise, make sure for your brand’s sake, they are easily relatable in the mind of your audience. For example, you may be a singer/songwriter. That makes perfect sense. They are both related to music and often go hand in hand. Think of Reese’s peanut butter cups. “Two tastes that go great together.”

2. Synthesize. The definition of synthesizing is “combining different ideas, influences or objects into a new whole.” The key here is “whole.” The ingredients must mix together. The combination should be better than the separate parts. Think of the great fluffernutter sandwich, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Now that’s innovation!

3. Learn to let go. Sometimes being an “and” is a result of the fear of letting go. If you’ve ever had a baby, you may have had the experience of being a little sad when finding out the sex of your precious bundle. Of course, you were thrilled to know the sex of your child, but letting go of all the possibilities attached to the idea of the opposite sex can sometimes be a little let down. It can be that way with aspects of a brand as well. You want to hold on to ALL the possibilities, but this actually diffuses your brand.

4. Make a decision. This is similar to letting go, but making a decision is much more active. It is fueled by intention which is very powerful. When you make a decision, you point your brand in a specific, clear direction. When you make a firm decision, you don’t just let go of something, you move TOWARDS something. You claim it, you own it. It’s very powerful and imbues your brand with confidence. And we all know confidence is sexy. 

You do not have to be one-dimensional when creating a successful brand, but your brand elements must jive together in the minds of your audience. I for one am not interested in a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich, but throw a few Reese’s my way and I’ll be a very happy customer.

As always, I’m interested in your point of view. Please post your comments below.

1. How do you uniquely combine different aspects of your brand?

2. What is your biggest challenge on deciding what direction to take your brand?

I’d love to connect with you more. If you have any thoughts or questions, shoot me a line below in the comments or find me on Facebook.


If you would like to use this article on your website or ezine, feel free! Just be sure to include the following:

Heather Poduska is a Reach certified personal brand strategist, image consultant and business coach who helps women entrepreneurs create client attractive brands, polished brand images and brand communication strategies to increase their visibility and impact in the marketplace and grow their businesses.
To learn even more about Heather and the Clear Voice Branding System click the link.