biz - Coca-Cola_logo5This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the National Speaker’s Association Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, with some very well known and successful people.  As I spent time with them over the weekend, I studied them in the context of branding to discover what exactly their brand was, how it made them distinct, and how I could use that information to discover my own brand.   But basically what I discovered is that branding is baloney!  There is something else that is far more important than branding!

Here is what I discovered.

To start, what is a brand?  The best definition for brand in the business sense, according to Dictionary.com, is a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristics.

My thoughts are that distinctive characteristics make it memorable, and memorable makes it desirable.  Some people would say that a logo and your colors are your brand (like Coke)  But I think there’s something else.

Here are my notes regarding the “branding” of some of the people at the conference.

Nido Qubein: Mr. Qubein moved to America with less than $50 in his pocket, and became one of America’s most successful businessmen, building Great Harvest Bread Company, one of America’s most successful companies.  He wore an obviously expensive and well tailored, but conservative suit and was trim and healthy-looking.  This is my first time meeting Mr. Qubein and the one word that I would use to describe him would be “Generous.”

He told us that instead of giving “samples” at Great Harvest Bread, they give “amples;” big pieces of bread that folks can slather with butter and jam.  After he spoke to the group, he gave everyone in the audience a gift just for attending.  and he graciously spent time talking to everyone who came up to him, taking picture, looking them in the eye, listening to them.  What was Mr. Qubein’s brand?

Jeffrey Gitomer: Jeffrey is the author of several number one-selling books including The Sales Bible, and The Little Red Book of Selling. He gets paid $30,000 per engagement to speak all over the world.  The one word that I would use to describe him is “Intense.” Jeffrey wore a workshirt with his name and company embroidered on the front.  Is it Jeffrey’s workshirt that makes you want to read his newsletter or go to his training?

Scott Ginsberg: Scott has been wearing a nametag on his shirt every day for over 9 years and is known as “The Nametag Guy.”   He always wears it, and carrys several with him all the time because they have a habit of falling off or getting taken off!  He has made a living off of wearing a nametag 24-7.  He has even tattooed a nametag on his chest so it can never fall off again!  Does that nametag make you want to buy from Scott?  Is the nametag his brand?

What I discovered is that you can wear nametags, purple hair, funny costumes, expensive suits etc, all day long.    You can have a great logo, and website, business card and more, but that’s not why people choose you.  They choose you because of who you are,  and what you represent.  That’s what really matters.

So tell me, what is your “brand?”