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Do You Have the Right People in YOUR Brand Neighborhood?

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Let’s start with a quick definition: your brand neighborhood is ANY person, product or service that you’d love to “live” on your professional street. One you’d happily hang with all day long if only you could.

So if you’re an executive coach, maybe Marshall Goldsmith is your gold standard.

Or you’re a strategy consultant and you’re busily checking out Jim Collins or McKinsey, Bain and BCG.

Sales experts are watching Jill Konrath, Tony Iannarino, Jeff Shore and their peers.

But if you stop there, you’re missing the chance to think beyond the boundaries of your niche. Which means your positioning, your message and your marketing may not be as rich—and distinctive—as you can make it.

So instead of thinking of the competition as you work to position yourself and your firm, start thinking about your brand neighborhood.

When I’m working on a brand strategy, I always develop a brand neighborhood short list. Sure, I start with competitors, but I’m casting a wide net to identify people and firms that have a similar look and feel to the essence of my client. To give them a visual reference to how far they could take their brand.

You can do the same exercise for your business (or your personal brand). Start by making a list of the people and firms and products that catch your eye, even as you go about your daily life. Be open and anything can grab you, from an arresting PSA commercial to a cool website that sells razor blades to a billboard hawking the next blockbuster.

Throw their URL on your list. And keep trolling for fresh inspiration.

Once you’ve got a good 10-20 or so that truly intrigue you, scroll through them and you’ll be able to pinpoint the themes that attracted you.

What—and it might just be one small thing—speaks to you? Is it their core message? Their visual appeal? How their copy makes you (fill in the blank): think, laugh, wonder, shout “aha”?

Jot down your observations and feelings while they’re fresh.

What you’ll gather from this exercise is a giant clue to where you need to go with your brand. Maybe it’s doubling down on what you’re already rocking or admitting it’s time for a serious overhaul.

When I moved to my current visual branding, I was inspired by a photo of a classic high-ceilinged, creamy Paris apartment trimmed out with red and orange pops of color. My brand neighborhood grew to include Seth Godin, Dan Pink and Ellen DeGeneres (even though no one will EVER mistake me for a comedian).

Why them? I wanted visceral inspiration to focus on encouraging consultants to think big(ger). To convince them to step up to being unforgettable. To midwife the dreams they’d placed on simmer.

It made all the difference—and led to a top to bottom marketing and branding overhaul.

Take a look at your own inspiration. Who’s in YOUR brand neighborhood—and what are they whispering to you?

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