Commentaries

Branding: It’s for the Birds

By Penelope Hillemann on August 13, 2012

Branding is for the birds. That’s an odd thing for a marketing communicator like me to say, right? Hear me out.

My husband and I recently attended a workshop to improve our shorebird-identification skills. Shorebirds are the sandpiper-like birds that tend to live at the shallow edges of lakes, ponds and oceans.

Many shorebirds look alike at first glance. There are size variations, but most of them are shades of brown or gray, with similar body types.

So, how do we come to recognize the differences between such similar birds?

Consistency of presentation, that’s how. Put another way: branding.

Let’s look at one similar pair. A Least Sandpiper looks a lot like a Semi-palmated Sandpiper. They’re both small shorebirds that forage on the beach or mud, rather than in the water. How do we tell one from another?

Their appearance provides clues:

  • The Least Sandpiper is brownish, while the Semi-palmated Sandpiper is grayish.
  • The Semi-palmated Sandpiper’s legs and bill are dark, while the Least Sandpiper has a dark bill and yellowish legs.
  • The Least Sandpiper’s breast bears a darker, patterned area, clearly distinct from its white belly. The breast of the Semi-palmated Sandpiper is lightly marked, if at all.

The two behave differently, as well:

  • Semi-palmated Sandpipers congregate in large, dense flocks, while Least Sandpipers spread out.
  • The Least Sandpiper forages slowly, picking at food on the surface of the mud or sand, while the Semi-palmated Sandpiper runs about, stopping often to grab food from the surface and occasionally probing into the mud.

Thus, these very similar shorebirds actually present consistent differences that allow us to distinguish them so well (once we’ve learned what to look for) that soon we hardly remember that we ever had trouble telling them apart.

And that’s the beauty of branding. It’s identifying the real characteristics that offer value and make your business unique, and then consistently presenting those key points to your audiences.

Don’t switch your messaging around just for fun. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Tell your story memorably, convincingly and consistently, and match your deliverables to the expectations you create. Over time, people will learn what you offer and what you stand for.

So, branding is for the birds. But it’s vitally important to success for us humans, as well.

Back to Commentaries

Recent Commentaries

See all commentaries