"Who am I?" While it's become something of a punchline now thanks to Derek Zoolander, the question still has merit. Author Charles Swindoll says, "Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it." Each of the comedians featured this week had every excuse to give in to the 10%. They overcame grief, injustice, difficulties and delay to reach a level of fame and respect which many in their profession never achieve. 

Is the same principle true for companies? Does a brand simply become who they are over time or do they grow into and discover their identity by how they respond to challenges? Gain clarity on the answer to that question by learning from our four comedians, who, through it all, have found a way to see the silver lining (and turn it into a tin foil hat when appropriate).

Samantha Bee Famous Quotes

The Quote: You have to be willing to ask questions that almost no one else would ask.

Who Said It: Samantha Bee

Who Are They: Deemed by Yahoo as the best late night host of any gender, their celebratory post makes this comment, "she speaks at length with people she disagrees with." This brash, yet conversational approach led to a high-profile 12-year gig on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, until she left in 2015 to start her own show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

Our Perspective: Consider your industry to be a classroom full of fifth-graders, all working quietly at their desks. Heads are bowed, the only sound the furious scribbling of pencils as each child attempts to earn the teacher's attention through diligent obedience and good work. Out of nowhere, a hand goes up from the back of the room and a voice shouts, "Why are we doing this?" Classroom disrupted. As a brand, it's the disrupters, the ones who fearlessly ask the tough questions, who get noticed. They may not be known for obedience, but they will be remembered.

John Oliver famous quotes

The Quote: It really helps a comedian to be an outsider.

Who Said It: John Oliver

Who Are They: Donald Drumpf - Google it. 

Our Perspective: There's a certain freedom of perspective that comes with being an outsider. Sure, at times you may feel excluded, left out and lonely - but you'll also be free from the bias of groupthink. When it comes to brands, it almost always takes an outside perspective to help organizations find their groove…even if it’s bringing in a seasoned executive to shake up the status quo. Stuck in a rut? Perhaps it's time to look outside the inner circle. 

Trevor Noah famous quotes

The Quote: If you laugh with somebody, then you know you share something. 

Who Said It: Trevor Noah

Who Are They: Trevor Noah knows about the power of laughter. Growing up in South Africa with a black mother and white father (illegal at the time), watching his mother get jailed and fined constantly for her marriage to a white man, and then having his step-father attempt to murder his mother left an impact on him. Rather than embrace the injustice, Noah rose above it with a smile and a punchline. His humor is a lifeline of hope, not just for himself, but for others who find themselves face to face with a cruel reality that's just not fair. 

Our Perspective: Noah understands the power of connection. It's an often overlooked attribute of the world's most powerful brands. The strongest connections are formed with emotions, rather than logic, and humor may be the most powerful emotion of them all. According to Brad Jenkins, the Executive Producer of Funny or Die, "Year after year, 7 out of the 10 most viral videos are funny videos. People like to laugh." Once you form a real, human connection with your customers, then you can talk about the serious issues. But it's the connection which earns you the privilege of their attention.  

Chelsea Handler famous quotes

The Quote: No one is just like me, believe me.

Who Said It: Chelsea Handler

Who Are They: Daughter of a used car dealer, Chelsea Handler grew up too fast, "I was 15 when I was 2," she told People magazine back in 2016. At the age of 10, her oldest brother died in a hiking accident. At 14, her mother was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Yet, despite viewing these experiences as negative, she now believes they set her free to go after dreams. In 2012, Time Magazine named her to their Top 100 Most Influential People list. She currently stars in her own Netflix talkshow, a first for Netflix, called, Chelsea Does. 

Our Perspective: Imitation is flattery, except when in comes to branding. Creative briefs quickly become littered with references to Apple or Nike. "We want to be iconic in our industry, just like Coca-Cola." The problem is your brand will never find it's own identity by hiding in the safe imitation of another. Step out from the shadows and put a stake in the ground, "This is who we are, like it or not."  

Continue reading:  Branding Definitions #45-48 - The Gamers

Stay up to date on the entire list of the 52 All-Time Greatest Definitions of Branding. New definitions weekly. 

Britt Stromberg

Co-Founder & Strategy Director

Britt Stromberg is the Co-Founder of States of Matter and our Director of Strategy. When you put your business and brand in her hands, she will think crazy carefully, listen to her gut, sleep on it—then do the research to be certain.

Filed under: Branding Definitions

Tagged with: Identity, Branding, Comedy