When advertising professionals begin talking about branding, their clients’ eyes start to glaze over. What is your organization’s brand, after all? Is it your logo? Is it your Mission Statement? Is it the very special PMS color you’ve chosen for your letterhead?

Your brand is reflected in all of these, but they don’t define your brand. David Ogilvy described a product’s brand as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” Put simply, your “brand” is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your organization’s name.  It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your organization—both factual and emotional.

PizzaSo, how do you define (or refine…or redefine) your organization’s brand? I have a simple exercise that can help jump start the process. And it can be illustrated by pizza.

Think of some popular pizza brands: Domino’s, Papa John’s and Papa Murphy’s. They’re all pizza, right? But do you know (or do you feel) anything specific about each one?

When you think of Domino’s, do you think of their 30-minute delivery promise? It’s fast or it’s free, right? Domino’s is quick (they promise as much). Domino’s is convenient (they’ll deliver it to your door).

Now think of Papa John’s. “Better pizza, better ingredients,” right? Papa John’s positions itself as the better option. They can’t compete with Domino’s on convenience, but the quality of their product sets them apart.

“Love at 425 degrees” promises Papa Murphy’s. It’s a take-and-bake pizza product. It gives the illusion of a home-cooked meal. Those customers buying other pizza brands don’t love their families, but you turned on the oven yourself! You’re basically a chef.

The bottom line is, it’s all pizza. But each brand has a unique personality, a unique set of characteristics, both factual (“You bake it yourself!”) and emotional (“You love your family more than those peasants who order Domino’s pizza.”).

To begin the process of branding your organization, there are three simple tasks (and, lucky for you, they all begin with the same letter, so they’re snappy and easy to remember).

  • Define.
  • Differentiate.
  • Dramatize.

First, define your organization. What does it do?

Next, differentiate it. How is your organization different from similar organizations?

Then, dramatize it. Why is what you do important? Tell a story. Show the results. Stir emotion.

Branding an organization (or a special event, or a fundraising campaign) is shockingly easy when reduced to these three steps.

Let’s invent a fictional animal rescue group and go through these steps.

  • Define: We rescue neglected animals.
  • Differentiate: We are a no-kill shelter, and focus exclusively on animals in the Jackson County Missouri area.
  • Dramatize: Here’s the story of Patches, a pit bull found on a street you know, who would have been euthanized in any other shelter but found a “forever family” through our organization.

Take a look at the “About Us” page on your website. Does it Define, Differentiate, and Dramatize? Try rewriting the copy there using this process. Is the result more compelling? Does it give a better sense of “who you are” as an organization? This process can be applied to every single piece of communication you create, defining your brand in the minds of your constituents with every image and every word you put into the world.