Who Should Be In Your Brand Neighborhood?

**NOTE: As we’re in the black hole of late summer, this is a repeat of one of my most popular, cornerstone articles on building your brand + business. Still want new content? Head over to the podcast where we’re cranking out a new episode weekly throughout the summer. Onward…

What do I mean by “brand neighborhood” exactly?

Well, it’s 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 a strategy consultant you might be busily checking out Jim Collins or McKinsey, Bain or BCG.

Sales experts are watching Tony Iannarino, Jill Konrath, 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.

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 “a-ha”?

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

What you’ll gather from this exercise is a giant neon clue to where you need to go with your brand.

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 you to step up to being unforgettable.

To midwife the dreams you’ve 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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