I was on a plane, a short flight, working on my laptop as the suity guy next to me was leafing through a sheaf of documents. We were both, obviously, traveling for business.

In an airplane’s close quarters one can’t help noticing what your seatmate is reading. Especially if it has your company logo on it. Especially if you recognize the work as your own. I figured out that the guy was on the board of directors for one of our clients, and was reading through the executive summary for a large branding project we were doing for them.

As he read, he made notes in the margin, circled phrases, flipped forward and back through the document. I felt like a fly on the wall. I was busting.

Finally, he was on the last page and I couldn’t stand it any more. I had to say something.

— I don’t mean to be rude, but I couldn’t help notice my company logo and it’s too much of a coincidence not to mention that I wrote what you’re reading.

He laughed. We introduced ourselves. He said he wished I had said something earlier so he could pick my brain about branding because he was curious about how we went about explaining it to the people who weren’t in marketing and advertising. How we made people like him understand it. But, he said, since the plane is already descending we don’t have enough time.

Sure we do, I said.

— Your brand is your story. It’s what people believe about you. Branding is actively telling that story to the people who need to hear it. Persuading them to believe something specific.

Oh, he said, as the plane came to a stop at the terminal, that was easy.

Sure – but try doing it.

By Audra Lesosky