Last Post 2009: The Beacon Principles

December 31, 2009 § 4 Comments

Well I thought I would slide one last post under the door before saying goodbye to 2009.  It’s been a hectic year, but in some ways a great one for solidifying thoughts, testing theories, falling flat on my face, dusting off and most importantly meeting some amazing people.  People, in my view, are beacons.  They may not always be switched on, but when they are they can do amazing things.  They guide, they warn, they show the way.  Sometimes they’re in lonely places, but that’s part of the price when your job is to shine.

Look at another beacon, a lighthouse: It stands out from the shoreline, jutting up from the rocks, clearly different from the surrounding landscape. It’s context gives it meaning – put the same building in a city skyline and it becomes lost and unable to function. Move it to the middle of a field and it loses purpose.  And what is that brilliant beam that emanates from the beacon? It is focused energy – energy with purpose, a purpose clearly understood by all, but for some an absolute necessity.

Understand the beacon principles and you understand the essential questions you need to ask yourself to build your brand:

1) How are you different? Difference is the soul of branding.  Where you’re different your competitor can’t touch you. Different is what makes you memorable and can even make you indispensable!

2) What’s your context? Context is what gives meaning to your difference. Context is understanding that your difference might be irrelevant to some, but essential to others. Identify the core market, the defining context that makes you essential!

3) What’s your focus? Focus has two faces: where you put your energy and where you put your audience’s attention. Emphasize your strengths and be conscious of the expectations you set – they are the criteria by which your brand will be judged.  Do what you’re good at and get help with the rest. Start a fire by hyper-focusing your energy – once you have ignition you can spread the flame, but you’ll never catch fire if you don’t begin with focus.

As you tuck 2009 to bed and begin to the live the excitement and promise of a new year, I hope you will ask yourself the beacon questions: How am I different? What’s my context? What’s my focus? I hope you will be a guide.

I know you will shine.

Happy 2010 everybody!

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§ 4 Responses to Last Post 2009: The Beacon Principles

  • Jacqui Chew says:

    Love your take on context. The lighthouse metaphor is so true. Useful advice to take into 2010. Thanks for the post.

    • davidscohen says:

      Thanks Jacqui! It is easy to overlook how much impact context can have on both expectations and value. For example, put the same table in a high-end furniture boutique and in a big-box retailer – in each context we have expectations of price, quality, durability, even prestige, and we set different priorities on the importance of each of those criteria based on which store we visit. The same exact table might seem over-priced in one, or under-quality in another. The object didn’t change, but the expectations were reset by the change of context.

  • Laurie Foley says:

    David, you are a master of metaphor. I love the lighthouse analogy, too. You know what a big impact YOUR difference and focus have had on me in ’09 – I’m looking forward to every chance we have to shine together in the coming year.

    • davidscohen says:

      First “brand therapist” and now “master of metaphor” – I’m starting the new year rich in sobriquets! Thanks Laurie! I’m excited about collaborating with you too!

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