strong, recognizable, and enduring brand

The Secret to a Great Brand is Just One Thing

Know what the secret to a great brand is?

One thing – just one thing.

It’s admittedly the hardest part of creating an amazing brand. And the trick, as Jack Palance in “City Slickers” reveal, is figuring out what your “One Thing” is. It’s going to take discipline and fortitude to choose the “One Thing” your brand stands for. Allowing your brnad to be distracted, taken off course, and generally waylaid is far far easier than maintaining your allegiance to just one thing.

I was recently meeting with a local chapter of a national non-profit organization. As is true for most non-profits with national affiliations, this organization raised money for it’s national charitable fund, as well as it’s local charitable fund. (If you’re keeping count, that’s 2 things). The local organization also wanted to demonstrate it’s commitment to the local community and give away money to other non-profits in the region. (That’s 3 things). Now, in good economic times, that’s marginally acceptable, at least there is enough money to go around and support all three of it’s charitable goals. But in today’s tough economy, three things is at least one too many (and in all likelihood two too many), there isn’t enough money to go around, and unless this organization makes some difficult decisions about what the brand stands for, they will be unable to support all three charitable goals.

strong, recognizable, and enduring brand
photo credit cogdogblog via Flickr

The bigger problem, however, is that the local chapter’s membership and potential membership doesn’t have a clear understanding of what the chapter’s reason for being (brand) is. The chapter struggles with it’s identity and providing potential donors a reason to join this chapter over others. In failing to stand for something, their brand has failed to stand for anything.  The root of the problem is simple to explain and almost impossible to change.

By trying to raise money for three distinct and separate causes, the local Chapter’s brand fails to stand for anything. When the Chapter fails to stand for something, new members cannot choose to affiliate with the ideals and goals of the Chapter. Existing membership struggles to remain conscious of why they affiliated in the first place. And what we see begin to happen is an inevitable march toward obsolescence — a fundamental problem for the brand.

Every Brand Must Focus on It’s One Thing

This doesn’t just happen to non-profits, it happens to every brand that loses focus on what it’s One Thing is. Changes in staffing, business opportunities, and community needs, all have the potential to throw a non-profit or business off it’s One Thing. When that happens, unless the organization has the fortitude to check itself and return to it’s One Thing – or have the guts to step away from it’s old One Thing and create a new One Thing, then the organization will slowly slip away out of it’s donors/customers’ minds, and donation/buying patterns. One Thing — and sticking to it — that’s it, that’s the secret to a great brand.



  1. says

    I had a prospect email me just yesterday Tisha after I had given him some recommendations for creating his own blog. He wanted my opinion and so I gave it to him.

    He was all over the place writing about one thing yet advertising for two other things that had absolutely nothing to do with each other. After giving him my opinion he came back to let me know that he now understands that this has been his problem all along. He’s never really focused on just one thing.

    He has some decisions to make and I have no doubt he will, I gave him the same advice you are giving us here. What’s your brand and stick with just one thing. Putting too many irons in the fire will not only burn you out but not benefit you in the long run.

    • says

      So true Adrienne — when we fail to focus on one thing we generally fail. The challenge is keeping focus on that one thing in the face of so many competing priorities and opportunities.

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing this great information about brand, based on my experience the best way to gain many visitor is by showing unique brand. and you must stick on this until the end.

  3. says

    Showing a unique brand is really one that can set your product apart. Competition is tough so be different and make people feel that difference that they become willing to buy your product.

  4. says

    Curly is CORRECT! 100% correct! (Recently, I’ve been aggravating one of my favorite writers to write “Just One Book”! :-))

    Thanks for sharing this helpful point of concentration, Tisha!
    +Vincent Wright

  5. Matt Clarke says

    I completely agree. Even getting potential customers to associate one thing with your brand is very difficult, trying to do more is very unrealistic. Having clarity and a distinct USP for customers to take away is one of the key aspects of branding, and something that many small businesses could easily work on to improve their brand. Thanks for posting!

    • says

      Thanks so much for stopping by Matt! Keeping it to just one thing is the hardest thing for any business, no matter it’s size, to manage.

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