Wendy Marx is a regular contributor to the career and management blog at Fast Company. Her latest post highlights one of the great defining personal brand statements of the 20th Century, John F. Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon by the end of the 60s.
I remember using the same story in an keynote as one of two examples of visions that are truly inspiring. The other example was Bill Gates’s vision of "a PC on every desktop".
At the time these statements were made, they would both have seemed pipedreams. The USA in the early 1960s lacked even the most basic technology to safely put a man on the moon. When Bill Gates made his challenge to Microsoft, a PC per company was still a long way off, let alone one per desktop.
The point about both of these visions though, is that, as Wendy points out, they
I’d add one more criterion to that list: they are not just easy to understand, they are easy to picture.
You can imagine a man on the moon, even if you hadn’t seen pictures of the moon landings. You can imagine a PC on every desktop, even if the desks around you have no PC on them.
Too often, brand messages are too conceptual and wishy washy ("all motherhood and apple pie" as we used to say in my consultancy days). Can you imagine what the best accountant in the world is like? I can’t, at least not clearly enough to recognise them on the street. Can I imagine a cheque back from the Revenue for 20,000 recovered taxes? You bet!
A brand statement that people can bring to life in their mind’s eye is a massively powerful anchor. So look at your own brand statement now and try and picture it. If you can’t get a new one!