Before I expose the next 3 lies, I would like to state a single truth. This truth led me down a rabbit hole about a year ago, and forced me to question everything I thought I knew about branding. This one truth exposes every lie below. So, here it goes.
We are not as rational as we think we are.
That’s right. On average, 90-95% of all purchase decisions are driven by our unconscious. Before you dismiss the notion of the unconscious as some outdated Freudian idea that every man is sexually attracted to his mother, don’t worry. He wasn’t right about that part, but he was right about our unconscious as a driving factor for most of our decisions.
Neuroscience and behavioral science researchers, Antonio Damasio, Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Dan Ariely, Timothy D. Wilson, and others, have uncovered some key insights into our minds over the last 50 years. The primary insight at the core of all this research is that our brains operate using two primary systems of thinking. These two systems of thinking influence every decision we make. They have been coined, "System 1" and "System 2” by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow.
System 1 is responsible for fast, intuitive, and emotional decisions, while System 2 is responsible for slow, deliberate, and rational decisions. These two systems work in tandem with one another to inform every decision we make. We also know that, on average, System 1 is capable of storing the equivalent of 11 million bits of information, while System 2 is only capable of around 50 bits (not 50 million bits). This is because System 2 requires much more energy than System 1. When you think too hard, for too long, you get tired really easily.
As a result, our brains have adapted to become highly efficient decision making machines. This is why your brand won’t find much success if it only attempts to appeal to your customer’s rational thought. In fact, you will find the most success when you focus overwhelmingly on your customer’s emotional thought.
You might think that brand strategists and advertisers already intuit this. You have probably heard some version of this story before from a creative agency. They all say that you have to appeal to people’s emotions to convince them to buy. This idea has morphed into a cliche antectdote spewed by marketers. The key word here is “convince.” If branding is a System 1 game, and System 1 is largely unconscious, then prioritizing convincing the customer using System 2 would be a missed opportunity.
When running a Google image search for brand strategy, you will see countless images of hexagons, Venn diagrams, whiteboards, and Post-It Notes. The branding industry has attempted to box the messy, irrational, and emotional nature of branding, into simple graphs and 2x2 pieces of paper. But, this is the exact opposite of how System 1 processes information.
Using a basic understanding of Systems 1 and 2 as a lens, I aim to expose the most common branding myths. One by one. You may be a brand strategist or a marketer that practices these myths (I don’t blame you, they are taught as gospel in business school and on YouTube), or a business owner who can’t escape them when scrolling through LinkedIn. Regardless, you have to think for yourself (using System 1 andSystem 2) if you are going to stand out in your industry.
If you were a fly on the wall in a typical brand strategy workshop, led by the vast majority of branding agencies across the world, here is what you would see. You would travel to some downtown agency office and walk into their stylish board room with an accent wall featuring their logo and mission statement with a couple curse words in it, so you know they are fun and quirky.
The facilitator (a fancy name for someone who asks a lot of questions) will hand out pens and sticky notes to everyone in the room. After throwing up a powerpoint slide with an agenda, they will go over the process and add some cliche phrases like, “Forget everything you know about creativity. Everyone can be creative, you just haven’t been given the opportunity." "This is a judgement free zone, we are just throwing up ideas to see what sticks for now.” “Empathize with the customer. Step into their shoes.” “There are no bad ideas.”
Systematically, they will take you through each workshop exercise, set a timer for 10 minutes (15 if you’re lucky), and have you write down all your ideas separately on post-it notes. Then, they might give you another 10 minutes to discuss your ideas. The entire workshop lasts between 5-8 hours. Once it’s finished, they can start designing your brand.
This approach stems from the popular concept of Design Thinking, made famous by the design firm IDEO. Design Thinking refers to the “cognitive, strategic, and practical processes by which design concepts are developed.” It offers an expedited way to solve problems by getting a bunch of people in a room and throwing out ideas.
The process is in the name. Think your way through the problem, and design accordingly, by following these 5 simple steps. The first major flaw with this approach, when applied to branding, is perfectly laid out in its definition with the terms “cognitive, strategic, and practical.”
It sounds like a great idea because we believe we are more rational than we are, and therefore believe our customers are too. Yet, our customers aren’t “cognitive, strategic, and practical” in their purchase decisions. Quite frankly, customers don’t think about your product for more than 10 seconds (even when they are interacting with it). Their life doesn’t revolve around your brand of beer.
Another flaw with this approach to brand strategy is the lack of breathing room. Many brand strategists pride themselves on executing strategy within a single day or a single week. They assume that you are too busy to invest in your brand. There isn’t enough time to step back from the ideas and examine them further.
There’s also no time to feel your way through those ideas. If your customer buys your product as a result of a feeling 90-95% of the time, you have to identify what those feelings are. Since those feelings are irrational more often than not, you can’t reason your way through them. You can’t cram a bunch of feelings into a workshop when everyone is constantly spouting off the first things that come to their mind.
To get around this, if you were my client, I would have you spend a couple hours in your favorite place (which I doubt is a board room, no matter how stylish), almost meditating on your brand. What metaphors can act as triggers when thinking about your brand? What colors, textures, shapes, come to mind? What is your dream for your brand 10 years down the road? Describe, in as much visual detail as possible, what your day-to-day life might look like after your idea of success has been fulfilled. These questions allow you to take a breather and start to visualize what’s already in your unconscious.
The second flaw in approaching a brand with a Design Thinking workshop, is the length of time you ask the participants to spend tapping into their System 2 mode of thought in one sitting. Remember, if System 2 were a hard drive, it would only have the capacity of around 50 bits of information. Our brains essentially shut down when they are asked to process too much information using System 2.
In his book, Deep Work, researcher Cal Newport talks about how we are only capable of exercising System 2 thinking for a max of 4 hours a day (so 2-3 for most people, most days). Even then, those 4 hours need to be broken up by 10-15 minute breaks every hour. We're not talking about bathroom breaks (although you might have to go to the bathroom). During these breaks, you must do something mindless and totally unrelated to your deep work for the day (which in this case is branding). That means you aren’t casually chatting about the brand during those breaks.
To maximize my client's capacity for System 2 Deep Work, my workshops never last longer than 2 hours at a time. Then we are done for the day (and often for the week). The goal is to save you money down the line by getting your brand right the first time, as opposed to rushing through it and having to rebrand every 3 years.
Let’s break down this myth even further with a case study. Many brand strategists and designers like to quote Steve Jobs when justifying Design Thinking. Steve Jobs famously said, in a 2003 New York Times article, “Design is not just what it looks like and how it feels. Design is how it works.”
Strategists and designers tend to stress the second half of this famous line, “design is how it works," and often ignore the first half, “design is not just what it looks like and feels like." Steve Jobs actually prioritized the first half in his approach with Apple. He deeply cared about how design looks and feels. When you look at Apple’s “innovative” products, you will find that they were only innovative in their simplicity, style, and consistency with their brand.
Let’s examine their “revolutionary” and “innovative” products. First, let's examine the iPod. The iPod worked well enough, but its predecessor, the Creative Nomad Jukebox 2, was the better MP3 player. It came out a year before the first iPod, cost $100 less, was faster, and stored the same amount of songs as the iPod. Why wasn’t it successful? It was ugly.
There also wasn't any beautiful ad campaign with dancing silhouettes accompanying the Nomad. Furthermore, Creative tried to appeal to the rational thought of their customers by highlighting their 10 gb of storage, as opposed to Apple’s “A thousand songs in your pocket.” Rationally, both MP3 players could hold "a thousand songs.” Apple leveraged System 1 and built upon the innovations of at least 10 other MP3 players before it, and made their iPod look and feel innovative.
If you are thinking that the iPod is somehow special in this regard, let’s move on to the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and even Apple Glass (smart glasses they are rumored to be working on). Functionally, the iPhone was only innovative in its touchscreen keyboard. It wasn’t the first smart phone, and it wasn’t the first touch screen smart phone either.
The iPad was released a full 12 years after Fujitsu released their own color touchscreen tablet. Samsung alone released 3 smart watches by the time Apple released their first. Even now, Apple is working on smart glasses, almost a decade after Google Glass failed to catch on.
Apple isn’t successful because they solved their customer’s problems. They are successful because they solved their problems in a delightful way. On the other hand, Samsung is notorious for implementing Design Thinking throughout every department of the company, including branding. As a result, they are always beating Apple to the punch with innovative features. If you are a Design Thinking loyalist, you might think Samsung should have crushed Apple by now. They haven’t. They have been neck and neck with Apple for years. Why? For the answer, let's turn to another Steve Jobs quote.
Steve Jobs also famously said that "Microsoft has no taste." I think the same could be said of Samsung. You could make the case that, if they just keep copying Apple’s design, they don’t need to have taste. After all, they do have the 2nd largest market share behind Apple. But let me ask you this? Do you know of any die hard Samsung fans?
Considering brand loyalty is extremely rare (more on the brand loyalty myth later), the fact that you see Apple stickers on people’s cars speaks volumes.
To belabor my point about Apple, let's take a closer look at how we make decisions, using my own experience with Samsung and Apple as an example.
In 2016, I walked into my local Verizon store, determined to buy the new Samsung Galaxy S7 after my Galaxy S6 died of drowning. That was the day I bought my first iPhone.
You might be wondering how my S6 died of drowning when it was capable of being submerged under 10 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Apparently, if you show off the water resistance feature of your phone by “accidentally" dropping it in a glass of water in front of your friends, it’s not wise to take off the phone’s back in order to demonstrate how it’s sealed up. The water from your thumb will drip onto the very hole that’s being sealed, and it will die a slow and painful death.
Before walking into that Verizon store, I spent hours researching smart phones. I discovered that the Samsung Galaxy S7 was the fastest, most powerful, and most innovative phone on the market at the time. The iPhone didn’t hold a candle to it. So why didn’t I walk out of the store with a new Samsung phone?
Neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio, has a theory for this phenomenon. Damasio is known for demonstrating that patients with damage to the part of their brain that processes emotions, struggle to make even routine decisions. Throughout his work, Damasio has consistently proven that our emotions are an integral part of every decision we make. The graph below showcases how my brain prioritized my intuition over my reason in buying my iPhone.
In the chart above highlighting his theory of decision making, Damasio seems to agree with Kahneman’s theory of systems 1 and 2. He just refers to them, in more lay terms, as Intuition and Reason. He argues that Intuition is always running, while Reason can be shut on and off.
Before I showed up at that Verizon store, I was determined to leave the store with the latest Samsung. I came to this conclusion by examining several Facts, Options, and Predictions. In other words, I looked at the specs of the Samsung Galaxy S7, compared those specs with other phones, and predicted that the Samsung would be my most reliable option moving forward. Taking into consideration all that information, I reasoned that the Samsung was the right phone for me.
When I showed up at the store, it was packed with customers, but there were only a handful of employees. I waited an hour before anyone could to talk to me. Personally, I don’t think this is an accident. If you make someone wait for an hour in a candy shop, they might die of a heart attack a week later. That extra hour would end up being my downfall (or saving grace, depending which phone you think I should have bought). With that extra time, and situated in front of a dozen phones, I glanced at the iPhone 6s Plus.
During this time, my intuition (or System 1) was running. After my previous phone drowned, it still (barely) worked for about 3 weeks. The screen was permanently tinted green after that fateful accident, and I had to take the battery out at least 5 times a day to keep it working. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Despite the new Galaxy S7 having a crisp screen with all its vibrant colors and a new battery that would last for days, I still perceived my broken Galaxy S6 in the same way as the S7 in front of me. Consciously, I knew that the S6 only died because of my own stupidity. Unconsciously, however, the new Galaxy S7 screamed tinted green phone with a dying battery. I had a Negative Covert Bias toward Samsung.
On the other hand, the iPhone looked nothing like my broken phone. In fact, its operating system was entirely new. I had an Android phone for 10 years prior, so you can imagine how exciting it was to see a new interface. On top of that, I had a Positive Covert Bias toward Apple after years of being faithful to their products as a music lover with my first iPod, and as a filmmaker using Final Cut Pro on my Mac. I am also a contrarian (if you can’t tell by now) and identified deeply with Apple's “Think Different” campaign. Most importantly, as a designer and lover of all things beautiful, the iPhone blew Samsung out of the water because it was more delightful to use.
My Intuition (and the covert biases associated with it) obliterated my Reason. I’ve been buying iPhones ever since. In fact, while writing this article, I just bought the latest iPhone!
I choose to deny the myth that branding is merely about solving your customer’s problem. Science doesn’t support it, and my experiences don’t either. Branding is an emotional game, not a rational one.
When you read the work of branding “gurus” who are perpetuating this myth, you will find they are selling you on an oversimplified “by the book” approach. We all want to believe that a brand can be built by following 5 simple steps. That shouldn’t sit right with you. Human beings are far too complicated for this myth to be true. We are not as rational as we think we are.
Before talking about mission, I want to make something clear. Not every company is called to have some grandiose, impactful, mission. If you sell beer, it’s ok to just sell beer. You don’t have to sell a gathering space that brings the neighborhood together. As long as you treat your employees and your customers fairly, and brew beer, you might not need more of a mission than that.
Starbucks claiming they “inspire and nurture the human spirit, one cup, one person, and one neighborhood at a time” doesn’t feel very authentic to me. Especially when they don’t even pay taxes in many of those neighborhoods.
Half the time “brand purpose” is just something companies say to cover up the fact that they feel guilty about trying to make as much money as possible. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit, as long as you aren’t an asshole while doing it. I wouldn’t blame Starbucks if they admitted they just sell coffee and a good experience.
Regardless of whether you feel called to a grandiose, impactful mission, or you simply desire a great culture within your company (as everyone should), the last thing that will inspire anyone is words on a page.
Google “Mission statements don’t work,” and you will find hundreds of articles titled, “Mission statements don’t work…unless you do this.” What you won’t find are articles telling you to scrap your mission and vision statements all together. That’s why it might initially be hard to accept what I’m about to say.
Statements, as a communication tool, can’t inspire anyone for longer than 5 minutes.
Let’s revisit our old friends System 1 and System 2 and expand upon them. In addition to having two general systems of thought, human beings experience three types of learning within those systems. Implicit, Passive, and Active. As part of System 1, Implicit Learning is never switched off. Right now, your brain is learning a ton of information without you ever knowing it. Examples of Implicit Learning include instinctual emotions, perceptions, and basic body function.
Passive Learning is conscious learning (part of System 2), but at very low levels. Passive Learning is primarily used to reinforce information you have already learned, or to look and see if you need to pay attention to any new or complex information. One example of Passive Learning is feelings, which are the act of our brain transforming instinctual emotion into mental concepts. You learn which emotions triggers which feelings passively over time.
Unlike Implicit and Passive Learning, Active Learning (System 2) requires your full attention and is only switched on when learning new and complex information.
To summarize, you might have Implicitly learned that dying is sad, Passively learned that car crashes kill people when you see proof of it, and Actively Learned in driver’s ed that your emergency break can prevent car crashes. Now, if a car slams on their brakes in front of you, you have hopefully learned to employ your emergency break to keep from hitting them.
While sitting in on a meeting where your founder is explaining your company’s new mission, you might implicitly learn that they are choking up when sharing this mission. You might passively learn that they are choking up because they feel this mission is important or that they have been personally impacted by it. And you might actively learn the details of this mission to impress your founder.
Another important distinction between Implicit, Passive, and Active Learning is the capacity of your brain to retain information in each state of learning. Your brain has almost infinite capacity to recall Implicit information, significantly less capacity to recall Passive information, and almost no capacity to recall Active information. That’s why you forget that phone number you just memorized, but you don’t forget how to care deeply about something.
So how does this relate to Mission and Vision Statements?
Internalizing a statement requires much more Active Learning, then say, an image, testimony, or a feeling. If your boss is choking up while he reads your Mission Statement, or he worked with Stephen Spieldberg to produce a video that tells a compelling story behind the vision, you are going to internalize that mission or vision much more deeply.
Coaches and strategists intuitively understand that a statement won’t inspire anyone to act. Some intuit this, but convince themselves that, if they could only become a master at writing statements, they can overcome the pitfalls. Some became aware of the pitfalls, but have already built their businesses on statements and can’t turn back now. A rare few are totally aware, but realize they can sucker people into spending thousands of dollars working with an executive team to write a paragraph.
If you want to inspire anyone to act out a mission, you need to leverage stories, images, and questions. By reframing a statement into a story, a series of images, or a few questions, your employees can internalize your mission or vision by adapting it to their own lives. What might this look like?
Let’s say you are a partner in a personal injury law firm. When your employees hear a true story about someone who got their life back after suing a trucking company that “injured them in a car wreck,” your employees can put themselves in that man or woman’s shoes. They can imagine what their life would be like if they had to choose between putting food on the table or paying their medical bills.
Maybe images of that person’s injuries or images of their children going hungry could inspire your employees to work their hardest for the next client. Maybe they can ask themselves, daily, “What can I do, today, to ensure this never happens to anyone ever again?”
Do you see how this is more effective than a statement plastered on a wall that reads, "We represent clients for personal injury, employment law, and medical malpractice cases. Our goal is to maximize the results, whether by settlement or trial, for each client and case.” That’s the first mission statement I just found while googling injury law firm mission statement.
Are you serious? Do the words blur together for you like they did for me? Memorizing this thing would feel like the equivalent of memorizing, precisely, an arbitrary definition on the bar exam. Would you be inspired to act?
What about a well written mission statement? Couldn’t it be inspiring? Let’s take a statement that ranked #1 in this article featuring “12 Mission Statements you have to see.” Jet Blue's Mission Statement is supposed to be a shining example for you to follow.
Jet Blue has the following mission statement. "To inspire humanity — both in the air and on the ground.”
Imagine you are a Jet Blue employee. What are you supposed to do with that? What does “inspiring humanity” mean? When was the last time you saw a flight attendant (or even a pilot) inspire humanity? Maybe The Miracle on the Hudson 10 years ago?
I, for one, would need to see plenty of beautiful examples of Jet Blue employees inspiring humanity, to act on that mission. When I’m just wanting to get home to my family after working a long flight, a sentence isn’t going to keep me from going ape shit on a wasted passenger who keeps calling for assistance.
How can you leverage Implicit and Passive Learning to inspire your team to live out your mission?
Ok, this may be the single most common advice you will hear from any brand strategist. Differentiate or die. Differentiation is the process of convincing your customers, that you are the only _________ in your category.
This idea that every company must be the only _______ in its category has been developed by branding gurus David Aaker, Marty Neumeier, Jack Trout, Donald Miller, and others. The concept of differentiation is a great idea, in theory. If you actually could be the only _________ in your category.
The problem is, that it’s virtually impossible, and even when it is possible, you won’t be differentiated for long. Throughout history, brands that truly differentiated themselves eventually died (because no one wanted what made them different), or were copied within a few years.
When having a conversation about differentiation, you will often hear strategists say that Coca-Cola “owns" happiness, Apple “owns" simplicity, or Harley Davidson “owns” freedom. No one can “own" a generic word or concept. At any point, another company can come along and copy what makes you different.
Apple doesn’t “own” simplicity anymore, even if it used to. I can’t remember the last time I saw a cluttered smart phone interface. Sure, you could say that iPhones are the least cluttered of all the phones, but you can’t say they are the only minimalist smart phones on the market. After the first generation iPhone, everyone else copied their attribute of simplicity.
Volvo might come the closest to “owning” an attribute (with safety) that I know of, but every customer who prioritizes a safe car above all else, doesn’t own a Volvo. Sure, they used to be the safest car on the market. Then everyone else woke up and realized how important safety was to their customers. Now, a different brand wins the award for the safest car every year.
Mark my words, over time, Volvo will loose any ownership they have of the concept of safety. Most likely, they already have in the minds of most customers under 30.
Don’t get me started on Coca-Cola. If you are reading this article, either you had no idea that Coca-Cola “owns” the concept of happiness, or you are a marketer.
Back when I thought Coca-Cola “owned” happiness, I asked countless people what one word they would use to describe the brand, in order to make my point on the importance of differentiation. I was always disappointed that no one I talked to ever said happiness, or even optimism.
Every answer was dramatically different than the one before it. However, one time I asked my friend’s 4 year old daughter what color Coca-Cola was. Without hesitation, she said red. That’s what makes you stand out. Not adjectives or vague concepts. Distinctiveness.
Distinctiveness is not differentiation. Whereas differentiation is convincing your customer that you’re the only _________ in your category, distinctiveness is simply the act of looking like yourself (and no one else in the process). Below, I will make the case for “distinctiveness or die."
In his book, How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp decided to actually research what makes brands effective over time.
Unlike branding gurus before him, Sharp didn’t make assumptions about branding using common sense. As a result, his research made waves in the marketing community (especially among the largest agencies in the world) and the industry split into two factions.
One faction started investing heavily in scientific research and data, the other faction clung to conventional wisdom. Other marketers took more of a both-and approach (all of which still prioritized distinctiveness over differentiation).
Among other things, Byron Sharp discovered 4 huge insights in his research. 1) Few brands have ever successfully differentiated themselves, 2) hardly any customers are ever loyal to any brands, 3) customers don’t view brands the same way they view people (I.e. people don’t “love” brands), and 4) distinctiveness is king.
When thinking of distinctiveness vs differentiation, think of Coca-Cola’s “happiness” or “optimism" vs its red packaging, cursive font, polar bears, Santa Claus, or their unique bottle shape. While Byron Sharp's research made waves with the marketing industry's heavy hitters, few brand strategists have ever heard of this research, 10 years later.
One main difference between distinctiveness and differentiation is the fact that both occupy different systems of thought. Distinctiveness primarily leverages System 1, while differentiation primarily leverages System 2. Why should you prioritize distinctiveness over differentiation?
Two reasons. The first, is that your customer won’t typically spend more than 10 seconds thinking about your brand. The second, is that your customer doesn’t think of your brand as their friend or your other customers as their “tribe.” That’s because they don’t think of your brand as a person. If they did, they would feel bad about "cheating on you" at the grocery store.
Non-profits or the service industry might be a case where differentiation can be effective (depending on how publicly visible your employees are), because these industry brands are often associated with a person on the other end. We do perceive people we know well as unique from everyone else. Therefore, a person can be the only _________ in their category, so to speak. This could also be true for local brands when the owner is a friend of yours, or you had a great experience with an employee or owner.
Even still, differentiation won’t work here, if your brand isn’t convenient for the customer. My wife and I like to buy produce from a farm in our neighborhood when we can. We have gotten to know the two ladies that run it. However, 9 times out of 10, we just buy our produce at the grocery store because it’s convenient.
Another important distinction between differentiation and distinctiveness is ownership. While a brand can't “own” an attribute, a "brand purpose," or a “value proposition,” a brand can own its colors, font, logo, name, and unique design elements.
When Patagonia started to “own" sustainability, other brands in their category either followed suit or started “greenwashing.” When Amazon tried to “own” convenience, all the other major retailers began to optimize their online shopping experiences and delivery methods. When Netflix tried to “own” streaming, an entire industry was formed.
On the other hand, if Hulu rebranded to a black and red color palette or morphed their logo to appear similar to the Netflix logo, they would either be sued by Netflix, or they would lose their own customers to confusion. Whereas it can be in Hulu's best interest to copy Netflix in many ways, it's not in their best interest to copy what makes Netflix distinct.
Finally, when our brain is wanting to make a decision quickly, or under pressure (real or perceived), we gravitate toward the product on the shelf that stands out the most. We don’t stop to think about what makes each product different. In order to stand out, your brand must either look distinct, be well known and trusted, or have a huge marketing budget.
Ironically, many companies, as a result of believing the differentiation myth, end up building distinctive brands. After all, if you believe you are the only _________ in your category, your instinct is usually to try and stand out visually as well. Maybe that’s why this myth has become conventional wisdom. It has been perceived to work, even if it hasn’t.
After finishing this article, take some time to gather every brand you own into one place (or just write them all down). Ask yourself these questions.
1) Is each brand the only _________ in their category, or are they just trying to convince you they are? Do you genuinely perceive them as being the only _________in their category?
2) If this product wasn’t convenient for you to buy (I.e. it wasn’t at your local grocery store or it was difficult to find online or wasn’t online at all) would you go out of your way to buy it? If you answered yes, do you know the owner or associate the brand strongly with a person?
3) How long did you take to decide to buy that brand? If you answered a long time, did you start with a gut feeling and then justify that feeling with research, or were you completely detached from each brand during your research?
My guess is that you might find one or two brands that you are truly loyal to. There are exceptions, but customer loyalty and true differentiation are not the norm.
The “differentiate or die” myth has been exposed by empirical data. Do you buy products because they are the only ______ in their category? Or do you buy products quickly and intuitively because you have been bombarded by their ads and know them?
Take the time to think for yourself and question conventional wisdom. Look at other fields for inspiration on how to brand yourself and your business.
I chose to follow the neuroscience and behavioral science rabbit hole to formulate my strategic approach to branding. However, I guarantee you that many other industries can offer great insight.
I will continue to always question branding gurus of the age and look for the evidence to back their claims up. I would encourage you to do the same.