Branding Lessons from the Lizard the Captain and the Man in the Blue Shirt

3 Lessons About Projecting The Right Image For Your Brand
The Geico Gecko

Would you buy car insurance from a wise cracking lizard with a British accent?  Warren Buffet bets you would, and millions of Americans do.

Would you book a vacation with an awkwardly blunt and slightly creepy man in a captain’s uniform?  Obviously, or wouldn’t have created the character of Captain Obvious.

More importantly, would you let a plain talking, slightly nerdy, triathlon enthusiast give you financial advice?  I sure hope so or I’m in the wrong business.

All those things form a brand image and for the past few days I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about mine.

The fact is that how people perceive you, IS your brand.  You can’t control what people think or how they react, but you can control what you show them.  In so doing you are projecting an image for  your brand and letting the customers do the rest.  The key to branding then is giving your customers just enough to point them in the direction you want them to go.  And then hoping they get there on their own.

Last week I watched a series of videos on branding from success mentor and productivity coach Darren Hardy.  I don’t know what Mr. Hardy actually calls himself but when I think of him three things immediately come time mind, success, productivity and a freshly pressed blue shirt.  Why?  Because he talks about those things constantly and he always wears an immaculately pressed blue shirt while doing it.

Darren Hardy, trade-mark blue shirt and all, teaching from his back yard

Through watching these videos, I learned three very important lessons about how to establish and reinforce a brand.

1 –  Perception is Reality

How people receive and interpret the brand is just as important as the message you are trying to convey.  Mr. Hardy wants you to think of success when you think of him, that’s why he wears that perfect blue shirt all the time.  Would you think of success if he showed up wearing a baseball cap and ripped T-Shirt?  The gecko that shills car insurance and the creepy captain who wants you to enjoy your vacation both say we’re approachable and fun.

2 – Pick a Single Word

It’s okay to have more than one word but by picking just one it’s easier to direct your efforts and point people in that direction.  Most successful brands can be reduced to just one or two words.  The more words you use the harder it’s going to be to project your image with any consistency.  Mr. Hardy’s word is success, at least that’s what he said in one of the videos and I can certainly see it but there’s some subtext there as well.  He mentors business owners for increased productivity, hiring the right people and product marketing to name just a few.  If he wanted to mentor you to be a great athlete or coach the baseball cap might be a better idea.  But everything he says and does points back to that one word because more than anything he wants you to think, if you want to be successful you should be listening to Darren Hardy.

Which brings me to the last lesson.

3 – Design everything to reinforce your word

Think about how your word shows up for a meeting, how it comes through in writing, in advertising, or on LinkedIn.  I’ve already pointed out how Mr. Hardy’s blue shirt speaks success.  How does the Geico Gecko say approachable?  How does Captain Obvious say fun?  Remember, I’m not saying that approachable and fun are the actual words the advertising departments used to create those ad campaigns, but perception is reality and that’s what I think of when I see them.

My main brand word is compassion.

I understand that financial planning can be confusing and scary for a lot of people, especially if you’ve been burned by bad decisions in the past.  When people think of me, I want them to think that I am the financial planner they can be authentic with and receive solid advice delivered in a straight-forward, non-judgmental and compassionate manner no matter their circumstances.

I’m still working on how best to convey that message across all my media platforms.  I hope it shines through in the way I write and speak most of all.  Life is hard and finances are complicated, if authentic and compassionate service is what you are looking for form your financial planner, I want to be that guy for you.

What’s your brand word and how do you reinforce it? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out the video I did on this same topic yesterday.


Vlog – Your Image is Your Brand

Like just about the whole world I am in self-isolation from COVID19. While my ability to meet with clients in person has been limited I have still been doing a lot of reading and thinking about Branding and Perception. I read this article I found from Forbes ( and thought I’d give a little rif on my thoughts. Check it out and read the article too.

As Continents Burn

A Semi-Poetic Reflection on the Nature of Reality

Half a world away,
A crisis is unfolding.


Some say the crisis has been here a long time,
we are just now noticing.
Some say it is not really a crisis at all.
Others say that how we respond will define humanity for generations.
Still others say it is already too late,
The choices before us are about adaptation and a new normal.


Some blame our governments.
Some blame the corporations.
Some blame each other.
Some just wish we would all shut up about and go hang out at the mall.


What is this crisis?


Some say it is climate change.
Some say it is the economy.
Some say our way of life is under attack.
Some say we must impose our values on others for the sake of “love” and “order”.


We all say a lot of things,
But is anybody listening?
Is anybody doing?


Australia is burning.
But it could just as easily be the Amazon,
Or the Serengeti,
Or cousin Ed’s house down the road.


An entire continent could be lost.
We can’t even agree on what’s happening,
Or how,
Or why.


Will reducing waste solve it?
Travelling less, taking public transit more?
Eating less meat, carrying reusable water bottles?
Will recycling and buying local solve it?


“Conflict arises at the point of perception vs reality.”
I read that in a book once.
Or at least I got the idea from a book, it is not an exact quote.
The author was talking about personal turmoil.
I think it applies here too.
How we perceive impacts how we interact.
What we value impacts the pieces we choose to ignore.
If we perceive incorrectly and reality disagrees, conflict.


Reality always wins in the end.
We can ignore it,
We can try to fight against it,
Objective, scientific, physical reality cannot be willed into non-existence.


To be anti-science, is to be anti-reality.
You can question science.
You can continue to collect data and test theories,
but at some point, you are going to have to accept what the results tell you.


The crisis we current face is multifaceted.
It is not just about climate change,
or economics,
or values.
It is all these things and none of them at the same time.
It is truly a crisis of perception vs reality.


Until we agree on the parameters that define reality,
We will continue to argue about perception.


As continents burn.