The Power of Fried Chicken: Using Visual Brand Anchors

visual brand anchors

By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Recently I’ve noticed a strong trend in personal branding — the creation and promotion of a visual brand anchor. While this top of mind technique might not be new to traditional marketers, its use in personal branding is on the rise.

Here are five good examples of using a visual brand anchor to promote a personal brand:

Suzanne “String” Nguyen, video pioneer: Fried chicken

String Nguyenstring nguyen might be familiar to you if you’re an avid user of LinkedIn. She started the first B2B LinkedIn video channel and was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices of 2017. But while her interviews are memorable, featuring subjects like Gary Vaynerchuk, she’s often brought up for her love of fried chicken.

In 2017, String toured the United States hosting Fried Chicken Parties, where she gathered technology thought leaders and influencers to converse and eat fried chicken. These networking parties landed her consulting firm jobs, but also made friends of people who’d previously only vaguely encountered each other online.

As a result, her fried chicken brand is becoming famous. A fan gave her a custom-made fried chicken hat and her name is always tagged whenever strange fried chicken news is shared on the Internet.  String explains, “Visual brand anchoring is top of mind marketing, it’s a memory trigger. Every day my tribe sends me their fried chicken stories. Every time anyone of thinks of fried chicken they think of me.”

Sol Orwell, Editor-in-Chief of SJO.com, founder of Examine.com: #cookielife

visual brand anchorsWhen Sol Orwell started networking in Toronto, he never asked, “may I pick your brain?” Instead, he offered to bribe his new friends with the best chocolate chip cookie they’d ever had. Sol took people to his favorite cookie bakery.

Sol was the founder of Examine.com, a neutral third-party supplement and nutrient site. His own story was inspiring–he managed to lose fifty pounds, whilst still enjoying his favorite chocolate-chip cookies. Sol’s tale became #cookielife, a movement of cookie bake-offs and taste-tasting.

In 2017, Sol’s bake-offs raised over $50,000 CAD for charity.

Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo at Sumo.com and AppSumo: Tacos

visual brand anchorsAnother person using their love of food to raise money for charity is Noah Kagan. Better known as the founder of AppSumo and early employee at both Facebook and Mint, Noah is also a notorious taco fiend.

On March 1st, Noah sent out an email from his personal site OkDork announcing his drive to raise $25,000 for Bo Jackson’s charity aiding children and residents of Alabama. You can read the email here. To help bring in more aid, Noah is offering his trademark Taco Powered T-shirt in exchange for one level of donation, and a personally-guided bike ride through Austin as another.

Noah really lives the taco lifestyle using the taco emoji to decorate plain emails, and prioritizing cold emails when they contain Taco Deli gift card codes.

Jay Baer, professional speaker: Plaid suits

Jay Baer has been an agency owner, consultant and author. But when his speaking career started to soar he adopted an unusual visual branding prompt — very loud, plaid suits. Purple. Green. Red.

In a crowded market of professional speaker, nobody quite looks like Jay.

“I discovered that when I started wearing crazy suits, 10–20 people a day would comment on them. When I talk to my tailor, I say: ‘Show me your craziest patterns. The crazier, the better.’ We live in an environment where we’re all besieged by this sea of sameness, and anything different stands out. So, if you’re going to do anything, you may as well do something different and actually get noticed.”

When he changes at the end of the day to relax, he says he is “getting out of uniform.” It is that important to his brand.

Brian O. Hemphill, President of Radford University: A bow tie

One of the colleges I attended has a new President, Brian O. Hemphill, who has become known not just for his ambitious new plans for Radford University, but also for being rather dapper! His trademark is a bowtie, usually Highlander Red.

You can tell his influence is strong, because I’ve heard reports that he’s started a local trend.

Other staff and faculty have recently become fond of bow ties!

A few visual brand anchor pitfalls

While these examples are great uses of visual brand anchoring, there are also some techniques to avoid.

  1. Not knowing your audience– don’t use a martini as a symbol if your demographic is underage, or bacon if you might be appealing to traditional Jewish or Muslim audiences.
  2. Not being sensitive to current events– don’t be like Allen Robinson, an NFL player that decided to use an AR-15 as his visual brand anchor. Not only was it a slightly gauche move, it was also ill-fated as his signature number 15 will be a 12 now that he’s joined The Bears.
  3. Being a little too creative– it’s best to build upon a symbol that already exists, as musician Prince found out.

And one last tip when creating your own visual brand anchor: if you can, choose a symbol that also has an emoji. You’ll always have your brand handy that way!

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is the founder of WeKiki distributed video platform. She is a marketer and author. Currently living in San Francisco, Kiki enjoys absorbing the tech scene and current trends. You can contact her easily through Twitter.

 

 

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