Seth Godin. If you’re involved in marketing or digital media today, you no doubt know who he is. And if so, then you can likely identify him in a picture. In a recent blog post by one of our (Boxman Studios) customers at the Google Garage made me sit up. Here’s the picture:

Who is that guy on the left? Seth Godin. Or at least it sure looks like him. No where in the blog post does it say that this is Seth Godin. But it is.

So why do I know this? How was I able to identify a man I don’t know from the back? I do not read his blog regularly. I have never picked up one of his books. I have never heard him speak (not even on video.) I do not follow him in any capacity in digital media. So how do I know? Because he is a brand. He’s the brand of Seth. The bald head. The yellow-framed glasses. The fact he’s in a picture at a TED conference.

From what I’ve read on his blog, Seth Godin as an outstanding writer. But like with most marketing writers, I don’t feel like anything he’s saying is new. He’s just saying things better than the others. The bottom line is that it’s all just rehashed info for a modern audience. Zig Ziglar 2.0, if you will.

Look, if you’re a writer who is willing to bucket yourself into a specific genre – you are going to develop a niche audience. If you’re a talented writer who is willing to do this, your audience is going to grow proportionate with your talent. When you say things that people agree with, and you say them really well, that’s gold. However, if you’re a talented writer (with a large audience) and you’ve also got a secondary hook, well that’s wildfire. Seth Godin is a talented writer. But he’s not saying anything new. He’s drawing on universal themes that have been proven before, and then spinning them for a new audience. But the big difference is that he’s also got a secondary hook: His looks. He’s bald. He wears yellow framed glasses. He dresses a specific way. His smile is consistent in every photograph. Because of this, and considering his talent, Seth Godin is an iconic figure that people recognize with minimum effort. And that, my friends, is called good branding.

Like Cher, Bono and Charo – in the world of digital media and marketing, the name Seth is iconic enough to stand on its own. But it still doesn’t mean he’s saying anything new. It’s just really good branding. If you’re an aspiring marketing guru and you’ve got serious talent as a writer, find yourself a secondary hook and ride that pony as far as you can.

Just don’t shave your head – it’s been done already.


Jim Mitchem

Eating Crow on QR Codes

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.