They Call It the Celery Test

Have you ever stood in line at the grocery store and tried to guess what the person in front of you was planning on making?  Ingredients like chips, dip and soda are a good indicator of a party.  Rolls, hotdogs, napkins and some relish might clue you in to a picnic.  In his book, Start With WHY, Simon Sinek calls this the “celery test.”  When you look at the branding and marketing ingredients in your toolbox, do they look like they belong together?

Brand Congruency

At SliceWorks, we call this brand congruency.

We talk about this in our video on our website’s homepage.  A strong brand aligns their WHY, HOW and WHAT together in a way that makes sense, both internally to the staff and externally, to the audiences that they are talking to.  We recently presented on this very topic in Chicago.

Properly aligning your WHY, HOW and WHAT together creates your brand personality and gives it a voice.  Matching your brand personality to your brand voice is important too.

Brand Voice

For years I sang with choirs and was an occasional soloist when the music called for one.  In the last several years I’ve come to realize that my voice is bigger than most and my vocal range is wider than most.  I sing very comfortably in the higher stratosphere.  On my journey to learn how best to use my gift, I’ve discovered that I am a soloist meant to sing opera. For the first time in years, I’m finding the singing that I’m doing rewarding AND very challenging.

Your Brand Voice needs to make sense across all your communications. What your association talks about, what member benefits and services you offer, how you talk to your members should all align with WHY you do what you do.  That’s what successful content marketing is all about.  Your members needs and interests should be the driver of your content strategy and how you engage with those members. The timeliness of the information you share is also important.  As you curate and create information that is important to share, you become the “go to” expert for your industry. Folks come to rely on you for your thought leadership

Brand Vision and Mission

HOW does your organization accomplish your WHY? Your mission statement is your set of principles that guide you in understanding how you accomplish your WHY.  These principles are an indicator of the approach you take to realizing the vision of your association.  Your HOW is connected directly to certain behaviors and attitudes that are common to your community.  This is where the culture of your brand reveals itself.

Brand Culture

What core values, behaviors and attitudes are important to your members, staff and other key stakeholders? The answers to those questions will lead you to an understanding of how your organization should operate to create community and loyalty, both internally and externally. Jamie Notter, in his ebook Culture That Works, talks about Netflix and Zappos, as good examples of brands that have made the connection “between values, culture and performance.” Their WHY and their HOW are aligned properly. In the Netflix new employee orientation PPT (taken from slides 8 & 9), “judgment” is one of the core values of their culture:

At Netflix, we particularly value the following nine behaviors and skills in our colleagues…meaning we hire and promote people who demonstrate these nine values—


  • — You make wise decisions (people, technical, business and creative) despite ambiguity
  • — You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms
  • — You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do
  • — You smartly separate what must be done well now, and what can be improved later


The Celery Test

So what exactly does this have to do with celery?  Can your members, your sponsors, the general public, look at what’s in your branding and marketing toolbox and tell what you’re about?  What kind of value and benefits are you serving up to your members?  What is you’re recipe for success?  Is it working?

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