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Inform, Inspire, Invite: Taking your brand beyond logo and tagline

By Bruce Grover, Founder + Chief Strategist

This series of articles explores the principles of branding three ideas at a time.

My grandmother said that life comes at you in threes — the good, bad and otherwise. Whether you agree or not, three is a great number of ideas (or movies) to carry a discussion (or a story) in meaningful and memorable ways. So I thought I’d try it with the principles of branding.

Too often, I hear people talk about brands in terms of logos and taglines. As important as those tools are, brands are actually ideas that live in the hearts and minds of real people. Yes, brands are often abused for profit but great brands inspire hope, drive growth and galvanize change. They are ideas, messages and design working together to invite people to play a part in shaping the future.

Think of the brands you love and how they share their value and values. Apple. Nike. Yeti. Beats by Dr. Dre. The Child Mind Institute. St. Jude’s. The Nature Conservancy. MoMA. Washington University. The Red Sox. New York City... All of them have competitors or peers doing very, very, very similar things. Why do you interact with your favorites? Likely, it comes down to what you believe and value about what a brand offers and stands for.

So, I thought I’d look beyond logos and taglines to explore the principles of branding three ideas at a time. Here’s the first batch of what great brands must do to thrive in today's complex, crowded and confusing landscape.

Great brands must:

  1. Inform people of unique ideas, programs and products that can improve their lives. Our brand must express who we are, what we offer and how we work in ways that are highly relevant to our audiences.

  2. Inspire people with why its purpose and offerings matter. Our brand should express the vision of the world we seek to create in ways that spark fresh thinking, touch hearts and inspire action.

  3. Invite people, partners and stakeholders to get involved. Our brand and communications should rally audiences to an inspiring vision of change and to join us in building a shared, just and sustainable future.

When a brand is rooted in purpose, provides differentiated value, and invites people, partners and communities to collaborate in a genuine effort to improve lives, we see audiences respond, rallying to a brand and evolving into tenacious advocates.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think at

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