A Good Brand Is Hard to Find

How do we describe brands? Smart. Elegant. Innovative. Hip. Adventurous. Cool. 

Basically, we use the same words we use to describe people. 

And I think, in a certain way, we relate to brands in a similar way we do people. It’s why we feel so betrayed when a favorite brand of ours does something stupid or lets us down or outright lies to our faces. 

So, thought exercise: If we were to think of developing a brand as if it were a person, how would it behave? It’s about more than just our personality, but also our character and history. Really, it’s about our entire way of showing up in the world and how others perceive us. 

No right answer. There are lots of winning ways to present a brand just as there are a lot of different winning types of people.

A couple of things that are important: Consistency and authenticity

If you try to be someone you aren’t, you end coming coming across as what?

A fake. 

And if you’re flaky and all over the place, what do you come across as?


Both are brand killers, just like they’re friend killers.

So the first step is to figure out who you are, genuinely. While we’re all different, we want to try to get to a common place. It might not be the direct center of each of our individual interests, passions, and philosophies, but it’s a common denominator. 

For PRISM, that’s a few things: 

  • A desire to do great work – we’re aspirational
  • An understanding that we don’t know everything – we’re humble and open-minded
  • A desire to be good and do good – we’re compassionate
  • An impulse to think about what more we can do – we’re innovative and hardworking
  • A persistent concern that we missed or forgot something – we’re detail-oriented
  • A love for the game – we’re passionate
  • An urge to say what we think and tell the truth – we’re authentic

As with a person, these qualities need to be more than just talk. It doesn’t matter if we call ourselves any of these things. This isn’t marketing copy. I’m not trying to convince you that these things are true of us. 

Instead, the point is that the only thing that matters is that others call us these things because it’s how we actually behave. And the real goal of branding and marketing is to figure out how to relay these attributes to an audience so that they believe it without you having to tell them.

In many ways, then, the success of a brand depends not on the adjectives a business decides sound the best, but those they actually live out. A brand is an aspiration, and a business’ ability to achieve it is what makes it real and true, sort of like a good friend.