As I begin implementing my business strategy here at, I have been thinking long and hard about my business branding strategy.  What is the  Who am I?  Who are the people I want to serve?  As I go through this exercise, I thought that it would be pretty interesting to do a case study using my own site.

In this Business Branding Strategy Series I am going to work through my branding strategy here with you.  I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about branding, and have fallen in love with a book titled Primal branding: Create Zealots for Your Brand, Your Company, and Your Future.  So, in this series, I will work through Primal Branding and use my blog as case study.

What is a Brand?

Let’s start by defining brand.  The word brand comes from cattle branding.  Ranchers needed a way to distinguish their cattle from another ranchers’ cattle.  And, they did using a hot brand that would mark the cattle with a special symbol that told everyone who the cattle belonged too.

There have been many famous cattle brands like the Crazy K,  Lazy S, and Circle D.  Today, the definition of  “brand” has been hijacked by all businesses.  Today, at its core brand means identity.  The identity of a organization, product or service.

7 Building Blocks of a Successful Brand

In PrimalBranding, Patrick Hanlon studies the worlds most successful brands and has come up with 7 elements which form the primal code of a successful brand.  Hanlon’s seven elements are,

  1. The Creation Story – People love to hear about how something got started.  New beginnings are exciting times and for a company or product telling the creation story is very important.  If you listen to any interview of a company, one of the first things the questioner will ask about is how they got started.
  2. The Creed – The creed is the mission statement of the company.  Who are you?  And, what do you stand for?  What is your mission?
  3. The Icons – Logos, symbols, and short sayings form the icons of a brand.  These are concise descriptions of who you are?  For McDonald’s it is the golden arches.  For Nike it is the Swoosh.
  4. The Rituals – Rituals are the experiences you want to create when people interact with your company and your product.
  5. The Pagans – Pagans are you opposites – who you are not.  It is important to not just define who you are, but defining who you are not is a very powerful branding message.
  6. The Sacred Words – Sacred words are the words you use over and over again to define yourself or your products.  For Apple one of its sacred words is actually just the letter i – iMac, iPod, iPhone.  For Starbucks you have tall, grande, and venti sized coffees.
  7. The Leader – Successful brands also have a leader or visionary who defines the company or products.  These are people like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Rachel Ray.  For my site, that would be me.

When you take all seven of these together you get the primal code of a brand.  The DNA of what the company or product is at is core.

I think that this description of the elements of a brand is spot on.  As I go through this series, I will write about each of these seven elements and also articulate my branding story for  If you think you will enjoy this series, I encourage you to subscribe to my blog’s RSS feed.