Marketing For Health & Wellness

The Power of Branding in a Blink

Power Of Branding

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It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and you’re headed to the post office to return that stupid impulse Amazon purchase that isn’t the right size for what you needed it for.

And you drive by this billboard:

The Power Of Branding In A Blink

What would you think this is advertising? 

There’s no phone number. There’s no brand name. There’s not even a website.

So what in the world does this billboard mean?

Billboards are expensive, and they are hard to get right. The company only has a second, maybe two, to communicate a message.

Do billboards work? Billboards, with their fleeting opportunity to capture attention, epitomize the quintessential marketing challenge: conveying a compelling message in the blink of an eye. They work, if you have the right expectation for them.

The Digital Dilemma

In our digital domain, we’re obsessed with metrics—click-through rates, engagement percentages, conversion stats. The allure of quantifiable success has somewhat sidelined the intangible aspects of marketing. Things like ‘top of mind’, ‘mindshare’, ‘top of mind awareness’, ‘brand affinity’ are very very hard to measure in neat little data dashboards like brand awareness and affinity. 

Those pesky things like how many times someone even looked at your ad, much less had warm-and-fuzzy feelings about it, is nearly impossible to measure. Maybe Elon’s NeuraLink will solve THAT one.

It’s easy to focus on click through rates and forget that you’re putting forth a message, a story, a visual representation of who you are as a brand to a real human person who interprets that with their complex brain and life’s experiences and that day’s emotional landscape.

Behind every click is a person, processing your brand’s story through a lens of complex emotions and experiences. This is a reminder to not lose sight of the branding forest for the digital trees.

It’s key to not forget the power of branding, and the power of symbols to communicate your brand message. 

Branding Demystified

As marketers, we tend to make branding this big, important, esoteric concept. It’s spoken about with reverence. “The Brand” as substitute for “God.“

But sometimes, we have to remember that a brand, and branding, is a visual symbol for a message. Symbols in marketing are about communicating a message quickly.

I came across this fabulous brand awareness campaign example of the power of branding on Tumblr. (Yes, it still exists, and it’s embarrassing to admit that I still use it. It brings me a vast amount of joy.)

This branding example reduces all the complexity and reverence about a brand and just reminds us that hey – humans are visual creatures, and by tying in a repeated symbol to a message, eventually, you can strip away the message and just use the symbol to communicate what you want.

It saves time, it saves money, it shows you made a true neural link in someone’s mind between what you do/offer/say and this visual representation.

This is never more important than in a medium like billboards – there is no clicking for more information, no easy Googling to learn more. They drive by and need to understand the message completely, right then and there.

Case Study: Tim Misny, the Branding Maestro

Lawyers have it tough when it comes to marketing. Their industry is highly regulated, and there are limitations on where they can advertise, and what they can say.

Most legal advertisements are pretty bland, with the exception of David Komie here in Austin. 

Most lawyers have some kind of trademark phrase as well. In Texas, attorney Jim Adler branded himself as ”the Texas hammer“.

Tim Misny is a personal injury lawyer in Ohio, and his advertising campaign cleverly used branding and symbolism, and married his message to the advertising medium.

He started with 6 billboards, and is up to 240 (as of a year ago, according to this interview).

The ad campaign started as most lawyers do – with a pretty bland slogan from a guy in a suit:

The Power Of Branding In A Blink

Then, he took the familiarity with that branding and used the opportunity to simplify his message:

The Power Of Branding In A Blink

This billboard doesn’t have a phone number or website, doesn’t say he’s an attorney, and doesn’t even have his full name. 

This builds on the prior ads where it’s been established that Tim Misny is a lawyer who makes them pay, and establishes what situations where that skill may be useful (medical errors and bad accidents).

Billboards require efficiency and simple ideas – again, you have one or two seconds to communicate a message, so you must pare down any extraneous information.

This is where the fun starts. You can trust your audience to have made the mental connection once they’ve seen the message and symbol together enough:

The Power Of Branding In A Blink

Look at that billboard from a purely aesthetic perspective – it is so clean and simple. There is tons of space for the image and minimal text, without other elements clogging it up.

If you drove past this at 70 mph and had half a second to look at it, you’d be able to absorb the information.

Contrast that to this:

The Power Of Branding In A Blink

Marry the Message to the Medium

You must marry the message to the medium. A picture speaks a thousand words, a video speaks ten thousand. 

Misny’s approach culminates in a billboard so refined that it communicates his brand’s essence at a glance—a testament to the power of consistent, visual storytelling. 

His strategy, mirrored in increasingly short TV spots, underscores a fundamental truth: effective branding is a marathon, not a sprint. 

It’s about establishing presence, defining purpose, and differentiating from the competition.

And that your message must adapt to where it is being placed and shown. 

(That’s why people who write one social media post and put it on twitter, instagram, facebook, and linkedin with no adaptation drive me insane).

Symbolism is a fast and easy way to make a complex idea simple and efficient. 

Finally, the zenith of message, brand, and medium in one symbol:

The Power Of Branding In A Blink

At this point, now you know what this billboard means with one glance.

Marketing and branding cannot be done overnight. People want to skip to one ad or one campaign that converts, instead of doing the work of establishing:

  1. That their brand even exists (Tim Misny is a business)
  2. What their brand does (Tim Misny is an attorney)
  3. Why their brand does it better (Tim Misny Makes Them Pay)
  4. Before you can convince them to go with you.

As we continue down the road of modern marketing, let’s not forget the billboard’s lesson: the power of a symbol, the efficiency of a glance, and the enduring impact of a well-told story. 

After all, in the fast lane of consumer attention, it’s the simplest messages that stick.

“Where does it say you can’t have fun with your marketing?” – Tim Misny

Amen, Tim. Amen.

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