My husband and I are completely hooked on HBO’s Westworld. Not only is it a great show, but it has prompted all sorts of fun, in-depth discussions between the two of us where we question our own reality.
If you aren’t on the Westworld bandwagon, here’s what you’re missing: Westworld is a theme park of sorts set in the future, where human guests are welcomed by “hosts,” humanoid robots built and designed to give the guests a good time.
A key component to the Westworld hosts is that they are so believably human-like, with personalities and characters. And the key to each host’s personality is their Cornerstone Memory. Just like a cornerstone in an arch, a host’s Cornerstone defines their personality and holds it together. For one character, Teddy, that cornerstone is his love for another host, Dolores. For my favorite character, Maeve, her cornerstone is that she’s independent, tough, and capable.
One of my husband and I’s great discussions that was prompted by an episode of Westworld was all about the idea of Cornerstone Memories. What pieces of our past, our experience, and our genetic makeup make us who we are?
As we were talking, a light bulb went off in my brain.
When I talk to my clients about consistently creating content that fits their brand, defining their brand voice, and selecting signature content categories, what I’m really doing is teaching them to utilize their business’s Cornerstone Memory.
When your brand is clearly communicated and supported, your business soars! Potential clients and customers know what to come to you for—they seek you out because you’ve branded yourself as the authority on your subject. You don’t struggle with poor-fit clients, because your dream audience finds you (and those who’d fit better with someone else will quickly figure that out).
Sounds great, right? But how do we get your brand there? It’s all about defining and using your cornerstone.
Let’s look at some brands we know and love to see how cornerstone branding works:
Brand: Rising Tide Society
Cornerstone: A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
Signatures: Community, education, creativity
The Rising Tide Society was built on the idea behind the famous JFK quote, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Across their blog, Honeybook, their Tuesdays Together groups, and content packets, The Rising Tide Society clearly communicates that they are here to be the tide that lifts creative businesses’ boats.
Cornerstone: Low-priced, high-impact goods to make your life better
Signatures: Designer collaborations, ease of use/shopping
Target is known the creative world over as THE go-to place for all your everyday shopping needs. Their commercials capitalize on the phrase we all use, “going on a Target run,” because they want to securely brand themselves as your go-to, one-stop-shopping store. They regularly produce designer collaborations to further cement that they have everything you want.
Cornerstone: Beautiful technology to make your life easier
Signatures: Design, ease of use, progress
Apple is probably the most talked-about brand when it comes to talking about branding. And it’s for good reason: they really are the masters (just ask that one friend everyone has who buys every single Apple product). Each and every one of Apple’s hardware and software products is designed and built to make your life easier—and more beautiful.
These three brands clearly define what their main message is and showcase it throughout their content and offerings. Everything they produce ties back to that cornerstone of their brand.
So, how do you define your cornerstone—and make sure that everything you produce fits it?
Take a minute to jot down the signatures of your business. Not sure what those are? Ask your Tuesdays Together group, your business besties, and your family and friends to name something that comes to mind when they think of your work.
What do all of those signatures have in common? How do they relate to what you love to do? What message do they send? The answer to those questions is your cornerstone.
Now, build off that! As you create new content and offerings, ask yourself, “does this line up with my cornerstone?” If it doesn’t (and you can’t tweak it to fit), then don’t waste your time on it.
Defining and staying true to your cornerstone will cement you as the authority, the go-to, and the number-one-gotta-have-‘em brand in your niche or region. (At least until the robots rise up, that is.)