The Most Powerful Word In Branding

by Thomas MORADPOUR on December 13, 2011 · 7 comments

Excuse the linkbait tease.
I’m not going to drumroll it any further. It’s FAMOUS.

Yes, the most powerful word in branding is FAMOUS. It’s about the best filter you can use to carve out a unique brand which people will truly care about.

And it’s a loaded word.

fa·mous [fey-muhs] adjective
1.having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated: a famous writer.
2.Informal . first-rate; excellent: The singer gave a famous performance.
3. notorious (used pejoratively). 


It all starts with what you want to be known famously for. And let’s be honest about it – it can’t be too many things.
Disney owns Magic. Nike, Achievement. Apple, Creativity. And some achieve fame for just “being famous” (yes, Kim, that’s you I’m talking about).

The starting point of fame is knowing who you are and having laser focus on projecting just that. With everything you do. Asked how to sculpt a lion, Picasso once said “I start with a solid block of stone, and carve out everything that does not look like a lion”.  Having that clear sense of identity is not an option, and it applies from global branding all the way down to personal branding. When the dust settles, it’s that one thing you want people to remember you for.

But it’s not enough – you have to be the best at it. FAMOUS is about being first rate at that one thing you do.
So ask yourself “what can I best the absolute best at”… because no one will care about the rest.


Every chef has a signature dish. It does not mean they can’t cook more things. But the signature dish is what makes a chef famous, what drives people to book months in advance in a restaurant.

A famous offering is just that – the hero product that disproportionately drives the equity for a whole brand and business. The iPhone. The 911. That killer must-have GTA game that drives sales of the entire Playstation platform. That special new mascara that gets all the TV money of a make-up brand and helps elevate the whole business in the store.

Becoming famous is much easier with a focused story, with a focused hero.
Ask yourself what single part of your business can become your best platform to project what you’re about, and spend disproportionate amounts of time and effort behind it, rather that scatter between all products in your portfolio.


All of this counts for nothing if you can’t get in front of an audience. Fame requires a stage.

There’s always the temptation to multiple activities, and do many things that add up to what you want to say. Don’t.
Famous thinking means aiming higher and sacrificing the smaller initiatives that don’t cut through.  This is why TV advertising platforms like the Superbowl still matter – it’s a chance to gain instant fame and recognition in from of 100 million people. In a day. And get all of them to talk about it. On the same day.

It can be signing an unprecedented endorsement deal with Michael Jackson – the biggest of its kind, an Orwellian TV spot that send shivers down every PC user spine, a man dressed as a chicken that does what you tell him to, or a gang of babies rollerskating to the beat of rapper’s delight. You know who and what I’m talking about – because all these examples hit the highest possible target: wow-ing an audience enough to make them care and talk about them. Even years and decades later.

Question is: is your idea big enough to make people truly care?

Note - I could have used positioning, cut-through, awareness… and many other boring marketese words. The distant second is “remarkable”.
But FAMOUS is about aiming higher – it’s about creating widely recognized and admired brands, getting to the top of the emotional connection ladder, building true fans.

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  • Jeremy Powers

    Your selection of image for the post has me curious. What is she famous for? ;)

    • Thomas Moradpour

      “for being famous”.
      Bit of a stretch, I know, but I had to make that joke ;-)

  • Ann Bevans

    Great post, Tom. There’s a vast wasteland between being the best and being good enough. We would all do well to remember this!

    • Thomas Moradpour

      Thanks Ann!

  • Michele Price

    Interesting points.  Asking ourselves what are we famous for and is that in alinement with our purpose.  What are you famous for Tom?

  • 3% Conference

    You just convinced me to do something radical with my business. It had been rattling in my brain and now I’m off the fence and ready to focus on what my agency is famous for. Merci bien, Tom.

  • seo

    Thanks for your valuable time to spent on this article and sharing information with us. Its a very helpful information.

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