Get Creative: Your One-Word Catalyst

It can be tough to stay in love with your brand.

As we get pulled into the daily grind, enthusiasm and creativity can run a bit dry and aspirations for a brand we’re excited about can be permanently marked for “tomorrow”.

Here’s the problem: it’s tough to keep customers excited about a brand that you’ve grown tired of yourself.

creative sparkSo, today, I’m pointing you to a quick, simple, and fertile source of inspiration that’s right under your nose: the use of creative keywords.

It’s a simple exercise, but if you really lean into it, it will tap a wellspring of inspiration and can even rejuvenate your passion for the brand you’ve started to build. It’s kind of like downing a figurative Red Bull for a short burst of new perspective and creative thinking.

The One-Word Catalyst

There’s a fascinating paradox behind the act of creative thinking: the power of constraints or boundaries in spurring innovation. (ie. in order to attain out-of-the-box thinking, you first need a box.) That’s one of the reasons why a narrow focus is such a key component to remarkable branding.

Given the right amount of attention, one solitary word or idea possesses an enormous amount of creative potential. Let’s find one such word that you’ve been overlooking, and see how it can spark some new thinking for your brand.

Choosing a Creative Keyword

You’re going to seek out a catalyst word amongst your existing planning and marketing messaging. You’re looking for just ONE word that is packed with meaning and possibility.

Here’s a walkthrough with a personal example:

1) Collect the candidates:

First, look at your business name and tagline – honestly. They came from somewhere and it’s easy to forget the actual significance behind them, particularly if it’s been years since you developed them.

Beyond that, you can scour your website (especially your testimonials), business planning worksheets, Brilliant Clarity answers – anywhere that you’ve taken the time to record strategic thoughts or content that sells your business.

Don’t spend hours on this – more like minutes. Grab the first 5 or so words that really hit you as significant to your brand or your customers. Sometimes you’ll notice a word that shows up again and again – it could be a very likely candidate.

With a quick perusal of my own materials (specifically my testimonials area), I came out with the following words brimming with possibility:


2) Narrow down further:

Narrow it down to the three words you’re most excited about. It can help to cross off the most generic or commonly-used words of the bunch.

(Here is where you get to experience some of the true pain of branding – what it means to let some of your ideas go.)


3) Getting down to One:

Rarely do we know the full significance of a word, so dig into the definitions of your three remaining contenders to choose your ultimate catalyst. If a word has layers of meaning that ignite your imagination or open your mind, that’s the one!

Here are some definition excerpts of my shortlisted words from

Inherent (adj.):

Existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute.

My thoughts: This one really gets me excited (I audibly go “ooooh”) because it taps into my passion for respecting your nature and the unchangeable parts of who you are as you grow your business.

Decision-Making (had to settle for Decision, noun):

The act or process of deciding; determination, as a question of doubt or making a judgement.

  • the act of or need for making up one’s mind.
  • the quality of being decided; firmness.

My thoughts: I get a little bit intrigued by the final bullet point – being decisive and firm. I’m sure that my clients would love to feel that way.

Solid (adj.):

When I type “Solid” into the dictionary site, I get a 28 part definition given back to me, and very few of them are not relevant in some (even if far-stretched) way. This is looking promising, here are some of them:

  • having the interior completely filled up, free from cavities, or not hollow: a solid piece of chocolate.
  • firm, hard, or compact in substance: solid ground.
  • having relative firmness, coherence of particles, or persistence of form
  • of a substantial character; not superficial, trifling, or frivolous: a solid work of scientific scholarship.
  • real or genuine: solid comfort.
  • firmly united or consolidated: a solid combination.

My thoughts: I’m a bit blown away by how important this word feels to my point of view on branding. I’m sold: this is the one.

Have you chosen your word yet? Don’t overthink it. Go with the one that you can get the most creative juice out of. What word is stirring things up for you most right now?

Tap into your one-word catalyst.

What happens next shouldn’t be entirely prescribed. I want you to play with the word in the context of your business and your brand. Here are three options to get you started.

1) Turn it into an action question with the word “more” in it, then brainstorm.

  • How can I make my customer experience more solid?
  • How can I make my brand more solid?
  • How can I convey more of the “solid” trait in my brand?

2) Create a relationship between the words and what you do. Tapping into the various pieces of the definition here can force you to get creative.

  • What’s solid about how I brand?
  • How do I help them create a solid brand?
  • How can a brand be “compact in substance”?

3) Get curious about the word. Uncover its accompanying metaphors, symbols, and stories. Look at related idioms. Google it or enter it into Pinterest and see what you get.

  • What does solid look like? What’s it feel like? What colour is it? (in Pinterest, I get mostly solid colour clothing, but also architecture, rock, etc.)
  • What’s the most solid thing in the world? Who is the most solid person?
  • How do you know if something is solid?

These are just three ways to get playful with the word. The idea is simply to see your business or brand in a new light or from a perspective that you haven’t occupied in a while.

Into Action

Getting inspired isn’t all that useful if you don’t do something about it. So ask yourself a new batch of questions, getting progressively more concrete and actionable. Some of these examples will be more appropriate than others depending on the nature of your word, but will give you some ideas:

  • What if this word was your only rule?
  • What kind of advertising campaign would you create around this word?
  • What kinds of product ideas stem from this word?
  • Who embodies this word? How can you build relationships with these kinds of people into your business?
  • How will you build this word into your customer experience?
  • Go back to the source where you found the word in the first place (your website, etc.). Can you make it stand out or resonate more?

Let’s bring my personal example full circle with some actions I might take as a result of this brainstorming exercise:

  • I could label my offerings or info products something like “Branding with Substance” or “Substantially Branded”
  • I could print my business cards or materials on wood, or create web graphics with a wood or stone background image.
  • I can seek out and use related imagery: natural elements, feet on the ground, diamond or squares, solid colours.
  • I could create a webinar or promotional campaign called “Branding on Solid Ground” or create a process called “No-holes branding” or “Substantial Selling”.
  • I can share a diagram of my process in its entirety to accentuate its thoroughness.

Finally, pick 1-3 of your ideas to examine more fully, test out, or action on. Then charge forward with renewed enthusiasm!

Safe Keeping

File this word away as a creative keyword to come back to when you need some instant inspiration. You can redo this exercise with new words anytime you feel the need or desire.

Let’s Play:

Need some help connecting the dots? Share your one-word catalyst in the comments below along with your industry/what you do and let’s have a discussion: what does this word mean to you and how can you use it to further the creativity of your brand?