I heard a woman gasp when I mentioned the “Poison Dart Frog” – i.e. when I specifically said the tiny red and blue amphibian secretes a poison that can contaminate the water reservoir of a population of 500,000 people. It is quite small but very deadly and therefore extremely persuasive.

I told the audience the Dart Frog’s poison is colorless but that the frog advertises the potency with its bright red skin. About the size of the tip of a finger, it confidently sits on a plain green leaf, visible to all potential predators, knowing they’ve gotten the message. Over time and through experience almost every jungle species has been persuaded to leave the “poison dart frog” alone.

The point of my talk was that the frog has what marketers call “a consistent brand identity”. So then I related how one of the most powerful persuaders is

Are you bargain-basement supplier or a high-end operation? Should you be hawking your goods like a fishmonger or whispering promises in a way that sets a mood of elegance, chic and high style? Does your marketing department write elaborate spiels just to watch your sales staff shout ‘buy this is a deal’. Is yur whole team aware what tone correctly represents your brand’s « identity ».

If you want customers part from an upscale market, do you really want to hang a sign that shouts “SALE”. If you sell jewelry do you want to be know as a shop-keeper or a genius? A genius will promise beauty and romance with every necklace or ring sold.

The same is true for any brand. Identity is more than what product you sell, it is who you are. It is how the market sees you. My brands are “Lessons from the jungle...” and “The Way of jaguar-kings” what are yours? Here are suggestions for creating a consistent brand identity.
  1. Message consistency is more than repeating yourself or using a recognizable logo. People believe if you persuade them that you are believable. A consistent brand message has to correspond to the organization’s mission, be part of the collective psyche and thereby give people something to “identity with”.
  2. Appoint yourself – or someone - as your “brand consistency expert”. The consistency expert must not only have the ability to ensure the consistency of the message across every facet of the company, but it has to be someone with the leadership weight to make it happen.
  3. Make sure all your collaborators understand your mission, your corporate values and your correct marketing message.
  4. Don't expect your “brand identity” to just happen. It must be made to happen by persuasive communicators. Empower people to affirm your brand identity but remember that employees don't get paid to be creative, you do! So make sure you train them to develop and use their « creative capital ».
  5. Larger organizations should have a “communications manual” that lays down how messages should be interpreted across all departments, and who can issue what company messages.
  1. Also invest in training ALL employees who communicate with customers - even internally - whether they actually “sell” or not. The right kind of training will teach them to organize their thoughts so the Brand message is worked into everything they do.

The “poison dart frog” is successful because it consistantly sells its message: « I am

To enjoy that level of success, we must the same. The question is this - Are you persuasive? Are you presenting a consistent message?