We’ve seen an explosion in the use of the word “brand” in the past 5+ years, and it’s led to an interesting shift in thinking. The word, previously reserved for the likes of companies such as Coca Cola, started to be used by companies of a far different breed – attorneys, accountants, freelancers, consultants. The result of this brand-ubiquity is, I think, quite positive because it forces companies (of all sizes) to think about what it actually means to ‘build a brand’ along with what things they should be doing to better connect with their audience.

We’re often approached by a new client with a simple (but not-so-simple) request: “I want to work on my brand.” The not-so-simple part is figuring out what on earth that actually means – in brass tacks, quantifiable terms. We’ve talked about stimulus and response, and last time we began a conversation about the Brand Habit – a conversation that I’d like to continue today with a profile into a friend of ours who we think can help shine some light on the ever-challenging question of “so what am I actually supposed to do?”

Mete Pete Heacock

Let me first set the stage: Scott and I have known Pete since high school. I actually knew him best from art class – where 1) we had an art teacher who had a crazy love of linoleum engravings, and 2) I was first introduced to Cat Stevens (who now holds a very nostalgic place in my music catalogue). We’ve stayed in touch with Pete over the years, and he’s done a number of great things (from filming a documentary to founding his own film production company – 1st Capital Pictures). But it’s not those things that have me writing about Pete. What has most impressed me about Pete in the recent months has been his commitment to his own ‘Pete brand’ – in the form of a countless stream of 6-second video clips (courtesy of Vine).

Frequency Matters

When you check out Pete’s videos, two things become readily apparent: 1) Pete has a great sense of humor (check out the one of him giving a sweater to his son), and 2) Pete knows the importance of repetition. We talk a lot about byproducts with our own clients – the idea that while the direct reason for doing something is important, it’s oftentimes the byproduct that has the bigger brand impact (think news posts on a website; the news itself is good, but the impression that ‘things are happening here’ probably makes an even stronger statement). When I flip through Pete’s seemingly countless stream of posts, I can’t help think to myself, “man, this guy loves making videos.”

Don’t Worry About What’s Next

The great challenge with brand habits is that they don’t always offer a clear path to increased business. But here’s the key: that’s not the point. Building a brand isn’t just about getting more business – it’s about getting the right kind of business and letting people know that you exist (for when they need you). Pete is building an army of followers, one Vine at a time, and they’re becoming an army that knows who he is, what he’s capable of producing, and a little bit about the creative fervor he would bring to a project. Not bad considering that he’s now 5,000 strong.

Find Your Vine

So you’re saying, “great, but I don’t make movies. Now what?” The lessons in what Pete is doing with his clips can be applied to almost any business. You want to do something that aligns with your brand, do it consistently, and do it in such a way that people will talk. Are you a restaurant? Maybe you try a daily free amuse-bouche that people can vote on for future incorporation in your menu. Attorney? How about a legal tip of the day that might actually be useful for prospective clients? Whatever it is, just remember: the act of doing is just as important as the thing itself.

Nice job, Pete.