Charles Lindbergh

Lindbergh with the Spirit of St. Louis – 1927, Library of Congress

On April 28, 1927, construction on the Spirit of St. Louis was completed. On May 20 of that same year, Charles Lindbergh and his plane made history when Lindbergh became the first person to complete a nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Spirit of St. Louis wasn’t just any plane. Lindbergh didn’t pick it out of a lineup of aircraft with similar capabilities. From conception to completion, the Spirit of St. Louis always had only one purpose: to fly Lindbergh nonstop from New York to Paris.

Every decision Lindbergh made during the plane’s construction was made with that purpose in mind. Everything was as aerodynamic as possible, as light as possible. It’s said Lindbergh even trimmed the top and bottom off his map to make it more compact and efficient. He knew what was important, and he made sure everything he did focused solely on that.

And it worked. Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight was a success, and he almost instantly became a household name worldwide. About his sudden celebrity, he said, “I was astonished at the effect my successful landing in France had on the nations of the world. To me, it was like a match lighting a bonfire.”

Your Brand Needs a Spark

Eighty-seven years after his flight, Lindbergh and his plane still inspire wonder. They’re still remembered. Lindbergh knew what was important, and he focused on it, tended to it. And his actions created a spark that ignited something much bigger than he could have imagined in the minds and hearts of the general public.

That same principle can be applied to injecting energy into your brand marketing strategy.

It all starts with an idea—a vision—and your dedication to seeing it through. Every decision you make both publicly and internally should push it forward. From who you hire to your viewbook copy to your institutional website design, it should all be working together. Which means you need to get rid of what isn’t. Remove the clutter, and start focusing on what matters most.

That includes the people around you. Make sure they care about furthering your brand’s image as much as you do. Getting community buy-in is one of the best—and least expensive—ways to spread your image far and wide. The more they care, the more they’ll talk about you, and the more they talk about you, the further your message travels.

This is when the magic really happens. It’s when your image sparks—when your brand starts working for you.

From a Spark to a Bonfire

If you put in the time and cultivate your brand, others will start to see your vision, too. More important, they’ll care about it, and you’ll no longer be the only one acting as a brand ambassador. You’ll have representatives who care about you scattered far and wide, promoting you and your image to people you may not have been able to reach otherwise.

The more the people around you begin to feel ownership of the brand, the more empowered they’ll feel. And the more empowered they get, the more they’ll care about people hearing what you have to say. Once this happens, you’ll be able to communicate the messages you want people to hear most. You’ll be able to cement your brand image in the minds of the people who matter to you.

Charles Lindbergh created an image that still resonates after all these years. There’s no reason why your institution can’t have the same lasting effect.

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