“The trouble with every one of us is that we don’t think enough. Knowledge is the result of thought.”

– Thomas J. Watson Sr., former IBM CEO


I find most corporate messaging interesting. It’s just so impulsive or reactive. Short-sighted, even.

Our society appears to reward corporate action over inaction… decision over indecision… motion over motionless.

Sure, there’s nothing worse than slowly circling the competitive drain… Mired in milquetoast and malaise… Pretending the company isn’t stuck in status quo.

But is that bias towards action, action, action always truly rewarding?

Brands that understand The Power of One receive their reward later – down the road, well after they’ve crafted a messaging strategy. A careful strategy that starts from the inside out by first considering the outside in.

What is The Power of One, and how does it relate to intentional thought?

The Power of One really only looks like a holistic thing from the outside, but like a beautiful stone you find on the beach, a friend’s personality, or a transcendent performance, it is in fact comprised of many complex and varied parts all working in harmony to project a single image.

The Power of One is an innate sense of recognition, born and bred into us, that allows us to make the choices that help us survive and at the same time affirm our singular identities.

Because we are such visual creatures, brands like these that convey the Power of One form a clear picture, or brand identity, in our minds. The most meaningful experiences we have had in our lives have either been informed by those brands or, when a favorite song from your youth is used in a commercial by a brand you hate, co-opted by the people behind them. All it takes is to hear a sound, see a color, catch a particular scent, or glimpse even a tiny piece of a well-known logo, and the threads of our neural network light up to form this concept, this brand.

Keeping all those parts in sync is an ongoing challenge. Not only are there the strategic aspects of the brand to consider and maintain consistently, there are also expression of the brand such as the visual and verbal assets such as logos and taglines that need constant attention. The only way to maintain the Power of One is to understand that a brand only looks singular on the outside when there is constant activity and attention the inside. In other words, the only way to know whether these things are all working together in harmony is to step outside occasionally and look at things from the market’s perspective, and then step back inside and make the needed corrections.

At its core, the Power of One is a tremendously complex illusion that presents itself to the viewer as a seemingly simple reality.

In our branding travels over the past two decades, we can’t tell you the number of times a corporate marketing professional has asked us to give them a brand that would emulate some top player, either in their industry or even in some completely unrelated field. “Make our website look like Apple’s.” “We need something like a Nike ‘swoosh’ above the name.” It was as if they thought that by borrowing some visual aspects of a particular brand, perhaps they would gain some of its magic by association. It’s an unfortunate tendency we all have, wanting to copy success without understanding what built that success in the first place.

But you cannot borrow the Power of One.

Instead, you must create and shape your own brand. You must stand out by standing for something. And this takes careful thought.

Your tactics – marketing communications and digital expressions, for example – will make a lot more sense if they follow a strategy. And strategy requires thinking, as IBM’s Watson pointed out.

Invest in The Power of One.