I was recently listening to an address where the speaker was talking about using gimmicks to draw a crowd. If there ever was a gimmick, the example he gave was it: Every so often, before it wised up for good, his organization would rent an elephant, invite people to come see the beast, then speak to the attendees about a subject that had nothing to do with pachyderms.

Gimmicks are typically used when a group or brand thinks its ideas or products won’t interest people on their own. The topic of the meeting might bore or offend listeners? They’ll never show up willingly: We’ll trick them into coming by offering pizza. Are you a little iffy about plunking down several easy payments for one egg-making contraption? Don’t worry; they will throw in another whole machine (plus a spatula!) for free.

Branding isn’t about conning people into liking you or copying what makes other brands popular: It is about doing your own thing and trusting your story, told with feeling, is enough to appeal to the public.

As you enter our branding issue, consider what makes your brand special. Packaging: The Great Brand Differentiator (p. 8) talks you through revamping packaging into something that sells who you are on shelf. In How to: Contemporize a Classic Brand (p. 14), the author tells you to look at your equities — what sets your brand apart — and use them to connect with consumers.

Do you want a standout brand? Don’t follow the crowd; be yourself. Stay true to what makes your brand unique and different. People will see the passion behind it, and gimmicks and copying will no longer be necessary.