One day it's Damn, Daniel.

Then it's Carpool Karaoke.

Now it's Candace Payne a.k.a. Chewbacca Mom.

Maybe because I was laid up in bed for a bad back, I must have watched that cackling Facebook video about 10 times. And admittedly, I laughed each time. I even considered buying one of those damn masks.

This might be the internet's latest one-hit wonder, but there are some pretty timeless branding lessons Ms. Payne illustrated with her four-minute gem. Anyone who wants to build a personal brand--or any company that wants to market its own--ought to pay attention.

1. Unscripted is everything.

The reason this video worked is (1) Ms. Payne's wild laugh, and (2) that almost everything seemed spur-of-the-moment. To use that tired but accurate word, authentic. Viewers increasingly want moments that speak to truths. I grew up in the days of reality television, and while I would hardly say reality TV is "authentic," the appeal in watching was that you'd find a moment of truth in the scenes, something that spoke to you. Ms. Payne telling viewers she wanted the mask all to herself and not for her kids was the truth; how many times have mothers around the world thought that as well? And her confession that she wanted to drive around with the mask on--how many times have you wanted to dare yourself to do something kooky? Those authentic moments forge an instant connection with the audience.

2. Know your audience.

One thing that Ms. Payne did perfectly well was finding exactly the right audience. In this instance, Facebook was the perfect platform to publish this video--its users are slightly older than on other platforms, like Snapchat. Even better, she was using a just-released tool: the Facebook "live" option. That made her video stand out more. Knowing where your audience lives and speaking to them on their platform are critical when building a brand.

3. Look for your own unique moment.

One aspect to this whole viral phenom that hasn't been explored as much is how others were able to own the moment with Ms. Payne--and boost their own brands in the process. There's a delicate line to walk here because you don't want to come across as creepy or insincere, but for a brand--whether individual or a company--finding a way to inject yourself into a national conversation or event is extremely important. Days after the video came out, other people started to post their reactions to the Chewbacca lady. People who were laboring in YouTube obscurity were suddenly racking up 20,000-plus views just by reacting to something that was sweeping the country. Kohl's took the opportunity to present Ms. Payne with more Star Wars gifts and posted a video of her receiving them, which has gotten an astounding 33 million views so far. Being a part of the national conversation in your own small way can reap tons of rewards for your brand.

Good luck finding your own Chewbacca moment.

Published on: May 31, 2016