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April 19, 2007

Will I Recognize You?

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There’s lots of ways to think about branding. Some people think of it as just a logo or a catchphrase, Ze Frank called it the emotional aftertaste you leave in someone’s mouth and today Seth Godin proposed the idea of Brand DNA and introduced the one second rule.

Seth wrote:

"At 5, the clock radio at the hotel started playing Steely Dan. I knew it in less than a second. Two notes.

Same thing happens when I see just the edge of the New Yorker sitting in the pile of mail or the formatting of an email from a friend. I could probably tell a Starbucks just from the sound and the smell of the store. They all have brand DNA."

In my own sad life, I know that I have the same radio talent as Seth, I too can identify a Starbucks and my Grande White Mocha by their smell, I can pick out my favorite magazines by a visible corner, I can differentiate my electricity bill by the tint of the envelope, and I can tell the difference between my two cats by their smell — Jack Jack always smells like kitty litter. I’m not sure if it’s disgusting or endearing.

Given that the average adult’s attention span is shorter than my 2 month old cousin’s and that we all naturally gravitate towards what we know, Seth makes an important point. To evoke a response and be trusted your brand has to be so natural to users that they recognize you in less than two seconds. If they have to think about where they recognize that logo/song/scent from, their brain will get bored and move on to something else. Your branding, or at least your attempt at branding, will be lost on them.

Everything has DNA, but to be well-branded your DNA must be instantly recognizable. You need to make yourself part of their everyday lives, just like the radio and their morning coffee fix.

That got me thinking. I wonder if this blog has established some kind of brand DNA. Could you read the first few lines of a post and instantly know it was me talking to you? I know I could do that for a lot of my favorite writers and bloggers. They’ve built up such strong brands that I can distinguish their voice without ever seeing their name, face, or big scary wolf blog logo.

But how does someone create brand DNA? Is it something that can be created or does it have to happen on its own? Can you force positive branding? I don’t know; I’m asking you.

What have you done to increase your brand and to make it instantly recognizable? How have you connected things like smell, sound and sight to your brand so that people make an instant connection with you? How do you create DNA worth remembering?

[Speaking of brands, I currently rank #4 for "the lisa", help me pass Wikipedia, will ya? ;) ]

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3 responses to “Will I Recognize You?”

  1. Adam Audette writes:

    how about blog scratch-n-sniff? that works well with body odor to emphasize / rebrand offline.

  2. Kim Krause Berg writes:

    What you’re describing sounds like emotional branding, which is powerful stuff (and why the Geico Cavemen are so hot). I know, for ex., that in experiencing the Bruce Clay blog, I will have giggled at least once, but most likely many times. That helps the brand, just as much as “The Lisa” and “huzzah” and even Susan and you having hissy fits with each other. It only takes a second or two, upon seeing a new post bleep over the wire, to know Lisa has posted again and the lure of knowing it will be a positive experience brings an immediate response, such as a click over to see what you wrote.
    You got your brand. Bruce Clay, on the other hand…who is he? (Just kidding, Bruce!)

  3. Lisa writes:

    Adam — Hmm, would the blog have to smell like me or Bruce? That might be dangerous…

    Kim — I never thought of that. I’m glad we can leave readers with a warm and fuzzy feeling. It makes having to put up with Susan almost worth it. :)
    Oh, and you really need to seek help about your Geico Cavement obsession. Poor, Eric. :)



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