Branding: It’s in Our DNA

Let’s try a little exercise.


Ask the next five people you run across “what does branding mean?” Did you get five different answers? Not surprised. Since the term “personal” brand entered the social media mainstream, the word “branding” has become a word with infinite definitions. In an effort to clear things up, let’s take an approach that’s a little unique, beginning with a trip down memory lane…

Remember Your Middle School Biology? Okay, stay with me. I’m going to explain branding via the wonderful world of genetics. Really. Ready? Class is in session.


Genotype as Brand Platform: Putting On Your Makeup


In case you’ve forgotten, the word genotype is defined as “the primary factor, or source, of an individual’s genetic makeup that determines its external, physical characteristics.” However, because it’s literally a cellular component of your DNA, your genotype can only be seen under a microscope. Yet these foundational building blocks will determine what the world sees, when it sees you. Redhead with blue eyes? Brunette with brown? Blonde hair, green eyes? Thank your genotype.


Now, swap out the word “genotype” with “brand platform,” and “individual” with “company/organization,” and we’ll just about be there. Your brand platform serves as the primary, underlying factor that will determine your (company’s) physical characteristics.


Which brings us to the phenotype.


Phenotype as Brand Identity: Express Yourself!


The phenotype of an individual is the visual expression of its genotype: “the observable characteristics or traits, for example, its physical form, behavior, and the products of behavior.”


Similarly, a brand identity is the visual expression of a company/organization: its name, tone of voice, core messaging and visual identity (with the logo serving as its basis), all serve as visual representations of its underlying core values, its foundational building blocks, its DNA.


Simply put, an organization’s brand platform (genotype) is its fundamental essence: values, vision, and “reasons-to-be” that reflect its authentic, distinctive “internal” qualities. Its brand identity (phenotype) is the visual expression of that essence.


Finally, think about your organization’s genotype. What “anchor” words would you use to describe its core values? This would make a great place to begin your journey of identifying your organization’s authentic brand DNA, one that will be certain to resonate with your audience.


Questions? Class dismissed.