Yesterday I attended NonFiction Branding with DP Knudten and got a great lesson in marketing.

I came because DP - a self-proclaimed "high-functioning introvert" - just came up to me and invited me at the last Social Media Breakfast. I'm so glad he did. Another AmFam Dreambank workshop teaches and inspires!

What DP Knudten's NonFiction Branding talk is all about:

His talk takes you a little deeper behind the age-old wisdom that a picture is worth a thousand words. He makes the case that your brand is worth even more than that, especially once you’ve gotten to the heart of the truth of what your company or nonprofit is all about.

DP leads people through case studies of recognizable names:

·      He discussed why “authenticity, refreshment and sociability” are the founding concepts of Coca Cola’s brand and are what makes it so valuable, despite having dozens of taglines and countless campaigns over the years.

·      He helped us take a new look at how Johnson and Johnson put their founding credo to the test in the 1982 cyanide-tainted Tylenol crisis; the company stayed honest and true to their mission rather than hiding and doing the minimum.

·      Even what seems like a casual interview with Michael Kors on CBS Sunday Morning became a case study in how a company’s leader nails his brand’s three key elements that make it so successful.

Fortunately, his talk wasn’t just about huge corporate marketing campaigns. DP offered an excellent example of how a nonprofit that was struggling with an outdated and ill-fitting name took the leap in rebranding to a new name that inspires hope. The National Transplant Assistance Fund (a group that did more than help with organ transplants… and didn’t directly fund people) transformed into Help Hope Live. The shift gave their board a literal statement of hope to fundraise around. To be honest, I usually roll my eyes at organization names that are more of a sentence than a name. But DP told such a compelling story about Help Hope Live that I wondered why all nonprofits don’t do this.

Further, Help Hope Live reaped the benefits of their improved and more honest rebrand. A 30% spike in donations reflected how people absorb a nonprofit’s mission first through their heart, then their head, and then they act with their wallets. This applies equally to nonprofit and for-profit entities. But if the brand isn’t honest or doesn’t reflect who they really are to begin with, that heart-centered storytelling is harder. Not impossible, but harder.

Some takeaways:

Probably the most valuable thing that DP hammered home was the idea that your honest brand is a truth that is deeper than mere opinion. In anything that exists to represent your brand – it could be a logo, a press release or how you answer a journalist’s call, a blog post, a Facebook event page cover image or maybe tweets from your executive leadership – don’t get bogged down in bickering over what people personally like or don’t like: this shade of purple or that size of font. The only question that matters is if it truly represents your brand and who you really are.

DP wants people to think about the three key concepts that are the foundation of their brand. These are what he calls the timeless keystones that define what you’re all about and what people will remember long after the color-and-font argument is forgotten. He even gave us homework to help us develop these concepts further.

If you’re working on your small business or if you’re exploring the whole idea of personal branding, he can help lead you through a process of understanding the value of a brand and what yours is truly about. Learn more about his work at Collaborator Creative