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Popcorn Here!

June 4, 2009

Quick, picture a box of popcorn in your head……….did a white box with red vertical stripes and a circle in the middle come to mind?  It probably did as 99% of all popcorn boxes are exactly the same.  What a fantastic classic consistent branding that has stood the test of time.  No need for tweaking the design or re-branding the good old popcorn box, it is a perennial brand survivor!  It’s a simplistic example of a very important topic, the state of your brand image.

When you think of copiers, you think of Xerox.  When you think of mainframes, you think of IBM.  MP3 players…..iPod (Apple).  Coffee Shops…..Starbucks.  Orlando…..Disney.  Online Search…..Google.  Routers…..Cisco.   Gambling…..Las Vegas.  Microblogging…..Twitter.  Ketchup…..Heinz.    You get the idea, these entities absolutely monopolize their categories.

Now, you don’t have to monopolize a category to have an effective brand image.  When you think of overnight shipping, you think of FedEx and UPS.  Colas…..Coke and Pepsi.  What about classic baseball parks, about 5 come to mind.   These certainly don’t monopolize their categories, but they’ve earned a permanent seat at the mind-share table.

What about your personal brand?  What immediately comes to mind when people think of you?   If you’re a professional (Doctor, Dentist, Lawyer, etc), are you striving to be known as one of the best for at least some segment of your profession?   Not everyone can be #1, but you could be #1 in your specialty in your city or region.  What about sales (my profession), you could be a smart and capable salesperson, but what comes to mind when your customers think of you, what image are you portraying?  Have you earned a top spot in one of your customer’s key categories?  Do you come to mind when they think of their most trusted, or most valued vendors?   Do you make the top 5?  Will you be able to maintain that position?

Being the biggest, or the best, or the most famous doesn’t have to be an absolute.  Break it down to a sub-category that, with some hard work, is within your reach.  This is simply committing to continuous improvement.  Be better at something, be known for something, come to mind when your customers or your vendors think of quality partners.  Unlike our popcorn box, I am sure that all of us could use a personal brand makeover to progress the standing of our own brand image.  So the next time you’re at the ballpark and see that classic popcorn box, think about what you’re going to start doing to improve the state of your own brand image…..and enjoy the popcorn!

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