1. Your Brand is not what you say it is. It's what they think it is.

This is fundamental. Your brand is the collection of thoughts people have about you. These thoughts may vary based on the experiences people have had with you but all thoughts (good and bad) are a part of your brand. You can not control what people think of you, but you can give them opportunities to think the right things. Do this by forming a honest foundation on which you can base those thought shaping opportunities. If your foundation is anything but 100% honest people will not feel confident in aligning with your brand.

2. Great Brands are formed around who you are and not what you do.

Your identity is the foundation for your brand. You can not fool people by pretending to be something you are not. As soon as they have an experience that is inconsistent with what you say, their perception of you will change. The only way to assure that the experiences people have with you are consistent is to base them on the core of who you are. How many organizations do you know that are communicating exactly who they are?

Chances are other organizations are offering similar products or services to yours. You can try to differentiate with what typically boils down to simple gimmicks but people will see through those. The biggest difference you have to offer is you. Be yourself.

3. Your Brand grows and changes based on the messages people receive from you.

The more consistent messages you deliver the more solid peoples understanding will be of who you are. Over time the brand becomes something they feel they can trust. If the messages are inconsistent the brand will change and be less reliable and less trustworthy.

Everything is sending a message. There are visual, verbal and experiential messages. Your logo, your website, your business environment, the way you answer the phone, the events you hold, the products you make, the services you provide, your advertising, and everything else are all sending messages. Craft these messages to communicate who you are. If you can't do it hire someone who can.

4. People will choose your organization, product or service if who you are aligns with who they are.

By delivering honest and consistent experiences people will gain a better understanding of who you are and what you care about. If your values align with the people interacting with you they will want to support you. We all like to have our worldview validated and we want to support kindred spirits.

If you are truly going to touch people at the belief level you need to be brutally honest about who you are. Do not try to cover up your flaws or areas some people might not like. Fix the flaws you can and embrace those you can't. People will appreciate your honesty. It is refreshing and admirable.

5. How you Communicate is Just as Important as What you Communicate.

You only get one chance to make a first impression; don't render your message useless by presenting it in an ugly package. The Design of your communications will impact whether your brand lives or dies. Utilizing good design can add an emphasis and effectiveness to your messaging. On the other hand, poor design will immediately open your messaging up to skepticism and mistrust.