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Thursday, March 26, 2015

No More Jazz: From Branding to Being

In this article:

1. All That Jazz
2. Why Should You Even Care?
3. From Branding to Being: A Different Approach
4. Doing It Right
5. Mind the Gap

1. All That Jazz

What is branding? Ask 100 branding experts and you will get 1,000 different answers. Ask the clients they serve and you will get a myriad more.

I have had so many versions of the following conversation that it’s no longer cute: 

I say, smiling: “You know, whether you realize it or not, whether you like it or not, you have a brand. My job is to help you be deliberate in choosing it, effective in articulating it, and authentic and powerful in living it.”

They say, nodding: “Yeah, totally. Branding is so important. We just had our logo done. We love the new colors!” 

No—decidedly not cute. But who is to blame? What is a “brand”, really? Well, let’s first take a look at what it’s not.

We ask a lot of this little word which, in Middle English, simply meant to “mark permanently with a hot iron” (Rivkin 2004, 10). Despite marketers’ appropriation of the word for the hefty sub-discipline, “branding”, the idea of a “brand” as a mere—often physical—mark of ownership has persisted. And it’s no wonder.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary will tell you that a “brand” is a trademark…and a brand name...and a number of other things. Even well-trained marketers tend to use the term willy-nilly.

So, if you have ever been confused by what branding entails, here are a few home truths you will pick up in the field (and in very expensive business schools):

1.     Your brand is not (just) your name.
2.     Your brand is not (just) your logo.
3.     Your brand is not (just) your slogan or tagline.
4.     Your brand is not (just) your story.
5.     Your brand is not (just) your image.

2. Why Should You Even Care?

Bonus tip #6, on me:

Your brand is not (just) anything; 
but, when properly planned
and harmoniously executed,
it can take you just about anywhere.

Without a powerful brand—whether personal (for you, as a person), corporate (for your organization, as a product or service provider or as an employer), or destination (for your city, country, or region)—you get lost in the shuffle. 

Your target audiences miss out on what you uniquely can offer them (your unique selling proposition or USP) to help them achieve their goals. 

Generally speaking, an employer will hire you if they expect to recoup that investment through some improvement in their business, usually growth in their bottom line. Likewise, a customer will purchase your products or services if doing so will fulfill a physical or psychological need. Places function similarly—people choose to visit and invest in places that will confer certain benefits.

A deliberately chosen, effectively articulated, and authentically and powerfully lived brand clearly separates you from the competition and propels you to the next level.

3. From Branding to Being: A Different Approach

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” 

—Mahatma Gandhi

I propose that, when we reflect on our brands, we dispense altogether with the angst-inducing word “branding” (collective gasp) and replace it with a simpler, truer word: being. I propose a paradigm shift, from personal branding to personal being, from corporate branding to corporate being, from destination branding to destination being. 

Why? Because, as noted at the outset, branding is not just about your logos and colors and taglines, as some would have you believe. Nor is it simply about driving home your overarching narrative or story, as others more accurately argue. 

Much like happiness as defined by Gandhi, branding is about bringing what you think, what you say, and what you do into harmony. More than anything, it is about being. 

In her commentary for Inc. magazine’s April 2014 profile of Partners & Spade, Kelly O'Keefe, professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Brandcenter, points out that when “the company gets the behavior right, and the products themselves are beautiful, the ad role shifts from invention of story to, you put a camera on the behavior.” 

This is what it means to truly live a brand.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Branding for Success, the RightlySaid Way: An Interview with Cheryl N. Klufio, MBA

In this radio interview, Cheryl discusses: 

  • Trends in branding
  • The benefits of powerful branding
  • The essential role of strategic communication, quality content marketing and high-impact public relations within your brand strategy
  • The categories of personal, destination and corporate branding, and their unique requirements
  • The personalized, strategic RightlySaid way to successful branding

Need to build or revamp your personal, destination or corporate brand? Request your free consultation with Cheryl.

"Whether you realize it or not, you’re constantly creating and cementing [your] brand through your spoken, written and experiential stories...those are the stories that your words and actions convey...Each and every one of us has a story and is telling it. The question is, is yours RightlySaid?"

About the Speaker

As founder and director of RightlySaidCheryl N. Klufio, MBA, is a coach, author and speaker who specializes in perfecting communication to build your personal, destination or corporate brand. Drop her a line or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Return to RightlySaid website or request your FREE consultation here.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Interbrand & Institute for Cultural Diplomacy Publish RightlySaid Article on Place Branding

Dear RightlySaid Readers,

Last month, 
at the Berlin International Economics Congress at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD, Berlin, Germany), I had the pleasure of presenting a paper on place branding in Africa. 

I was extremely honored and humbled to stand alongside--and engage in deep discussions with--heads of state and international organization leaders from all over the world. (More on those "deep discussions" later.)

Titled "More Than We Can Chew: The Paradox of (Re)branding Africa," the paper was published in March by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and as the "Latest Thinking in the Field" on by Interbrand, a global leader in brand consulting. 

Of course, it's also available on our very own and on spotGH, the spotGHANA blog.

I have posted the full text below as well.

Do take a look, and, as always, feel free to contact me to share your thoughts!

Very best wishes to you,



More Than We Can Chew:
The Paradox of (Re)branding Africa

By Cheryl N. Klufio

March 1, 2011

“The Future of Nation Branding, Tourism and International Investments in a Globalized World”
Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: A Forum for Young Leaders (Berlin, Germany; Mar. 9-16, 2011)

Today, a quick Google search for the phrase “brand Africa” (in quotation marks and in English only) yields no fewer than 85,600 results. There is even a Brand Africa Initiative—launched on the propitious winds of South Africa’s successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup—and a Brand Africa Project that predates it. (The Project’s leader owns the trademark “Brand Africa.”) If you happen to search instead for “rebranding Africa,” the 17,400 entries (compared with 89 for “rebranding Europe” and 16 for “rebranding Asia”) will keep you browsing for days. Among the results are articles bearing that precise headline from the New York Times and other publications. While Google search results for given phrases are not always 100% relevant, it is clear that these particular catchphrases concerning Africa are rapidly gaining currency.