Saturday, October 29, 2011

Strong brands know it's as much about what you won't do, as what you will.

Lately I've had more conversations than ever with people launching a new business and creating a new brand, or trying to revive and reposition a tired brand. I'm taking it as a sign of our improving economy. And I love the dialogue because so many people, some very successful in business, see "brand" as a marketing thing. It's the logo, right? Or it's the color of their website, that matches the color on their business card. Or it's just that we need a new company story, right? That's the easy part - that's just the skin you show the world.

Brand is as much about what you don't do, as it is what you do.

In her amazing first book, "Different", that many of you have read, Youngme Moon calls the competitive marketplace today a "blur of similarity". Here's the deal I think... when things are tough and we all get scared, we look around the businesses we are in at who's doing what well and gravitate to "our version" of that same place and believe we'll be successful too. Take what's working and tweak it. This "me too" approach might work for a while, but it's not going to blow the doors off. And it's not really a new business.

Having a new idea is hard work.
What customer need is out there that you can fill? What problem or challenge do people have that your product or service can solve?
Simple is good.

If done right, creating the brand around your business idea will be about how it lives, not what colors you employ. ... If you are a quick serve cafe all about healthy refueling, what food will you absolutely not serve? ... If your business is all about human contact and personal service, what should your telephone system not do?

There are tons of great new business ideas out there. In this crazy world customers have more needs, and more specific ones than ever before. Those businesses with the guts to live their big ideas will win. And they will be the same ones who know that it's as much about what they leave out of their offering as it is what they add to it.

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