by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded
I recently went to a business chamber function to meet owners and various executives at different companies. Throughout the event, I was interesting to see, but not surprising, how people introduced themselves and their company. Too many of them began by telling you all about what they do or what kinds of things the company does. Then they go on and on repeating the FULL laundry list of what services and products they provide. By the time they got to #5, you’ve already forgotten #1, and they weren’t even finished yet. When you asked a question about a service or capability, most of the time they would answer, “Yes, we do everything.” I was amazed at how many companies can do “everything”. When I asked what makes you unique, most answered back with the same laundry list they started out with.
Too many business owners and company executives don’t really know how to pitch their companies. You’d expect the people at the top to be the shinning example of the brand and what it truly means. Unfortunately, most are some of the worst offenders of this. The fact of the matter is when the owner or executive looks or sounds stupid, so does the company, regardless of how great they “do” things. Here are a few areas to keep in mind about communicating your brand:
• What single element do you provide to the marketplace? To some this means what you do. It’s not. It’s about what emotional element do you fulfill. It used to be that technology or process can give a company a sustainable advantage for years or even decades. In today’s world, that time has been reduced to months. What you provide to the marketplace has to be reduced to a single, emotional concept. This way beyond what you make or the services you provide.
• Why does your company exist beyond making money? Of course, almost all businesses are in it to make money, but why are you in business in the first place? If it is just to make money, you’ll often find how shallow these companies are. They may make money in the short term, but will fail to build something long lasting and meaningful. They will fail at becoming great. Companies need to exist to provide something of human value. If they don’t, then no one will care about whether they exist or not and thus you will be reduced to a commodity.
• How are you unique? Being unique is not about what you do. There are hundreds of other companies who do what you do. There are hundreds of companies who do what I do. (integrated marketing). What makes you unique are the human, emotional qualities that you interject into the soul of your product or service. This is the true essence of the company like Apple’s “cool” factor or Nike’s “dominate your competition”. What is extremely hard for other companies to duplicate is the emotional and character essence of your company. This is what makes you unique. It’s not about culture either. It’s about what emotional value do you deliver to the marketplace that people are willing to pay money for.
Brand is less about what your company does and more about what your company stands for. It’s what value you provide to your customers that they are willing to pay hard-earned money for. Most importantly, it’s about seeing your company as a living entity. And as a living entity, who are you?