They haven’t yet sent out the St. Bernards with their brandy casks. However, last week, it came close.
Regular readers know my Panama hat helps me stand out from any crowd. After wearing one for 30 years, the hat and I are one in many minds, and it’s become my trademark.
Standout image plus consistent usage equals solid branding.
Yet last week, the question arose: is it possible to overbrand oneself?
For five years, I’ve belonged to a non-profit business support group. Since 2019, I’ve been on their board of directors.
I actively participate in monthly meetings and am ANYTHING but a wallflower. And, since we’re inside, I don’t wear my hat.
At last week’s meeting, the chair called for my committee report…and didn’t see me. “Where did he go?” she asked. Everyone in the room looked around for me.
Sans hat, I’d become invisible. When I put it on and stood up, everyone recognized me and applauded.
No, I’m not making this up.
Without the hat, I’ve had family members unable to find me at Costco and been yelled at by Chamber of Commerce executives. With it, I’ve been greeted by strangers and recognized months after I’d spoken at conferences.
The hat and I are woven together in the public imagination. Whether to wear it is no longer a choice.
After considerable thought, I’ve concluded it’s impossible to over-brand. There’s absolutely no downside to any individual or business providing a consistent message and image.
Why else would Coke, McDonald’s, and the rest of the gang spend hundreds of millions (each) every year on their marketing?
Obviously, a great deal of importance, value, and equity is built into their respective brands.
This suggests that it’s inconsistency on my part – not wearing my brand all the time – that causes the problem.
So here’s some unasked-for advice: Make sure you’re using consistent colors, signage, fonts, tone and tag lines in your own business’ marketing efforts. Develop an image and message that accurately represents you, then have the same steady presence in your website, social media, business cards, collateral, etc.
And, to ensure you’re never invisible, wear that brand every place, night and day. In time, your presence may also be missed when someone doesn’t see it.
With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
Rob Weinberg is a marketing columnist and owner of MBT Consulting.