I just picked up the book Brand Harmony. I’m only a few pages into it and it’s already given me three points that I want to share. Here they are:
- Your brand is not what you say you are … Your brand is what you customers think you are.
- Great marketing and branding is not about telling a story. It is about having our stories understood.
- Branding isn’t something companies do to their customers. Branding is something customers do to companies and their products.
If you’ve read anything about the history of where the idea of ‘brand’ comes from, you’ve probably seen the stories that it goes back to the cowboy days, when owners of cattle ‘branded’ them with their marks; enabling them to determine who owned which cattle.
The industrial age took that concept and applied it(or, more appropriately, misapplied it) to marketing and customers. All of a sudden, the focus of too many companies became building a great brand instead of delighting customers, or making a compelling promise, or just building a great company. Somehow, people forgot that a great brand is a result of doing the right things.
The great thing about today’s world is that customer’s can take the power back. This is good news for companies (like Starbucks, Apple, Harley, etc.) that focus on doing ‘insanely great things’ then letting the chips fall where they may.
Every fast growth company will do well to remember that, today, customer’s control their destiny – as it should be.
I remember when “Sharp Dressed Man,” by ZZ Top was released in 1983. I was in high school, and all my friends starting talking about that “amazing new band.” Wasn’t their stuff “really good?” “Wow,” I remember people saying, “they’re an overnight success.” Of course ZZ Top wasn’t an overnight success. They’d been releasing albums since 1970, and many a music aficionado would say that their stuff in the 70s was their best ever.
Today, presenting a program on strategy to a group of CEOs, I got challenged about my company’s claim that we will enable companies to cut their sales cycle in half.
“What,” a participant asked, “is my magic bullet.” When I told him that there wasn’t one, he then asked how I could make such a claim then. Parenthetically, he had already announced a few minutes before that there is no such thing as a magic bullet.
So, how do you cut your sales cycle in half? It’s simple really – and it’s the focus of just about everything I’ve written on this blog. You focus, maniacally, on delivering that thing which you do better than anyone else in the world. You develop a compelling value proposition. You create value in your business development efforts, instead of merely communicating value. You make sure you align everything you do, and I mean everything, behind delivering your value proposition. Stop marketing to people who are not right for your offering. Be authentic. Make real promises and deliver on them. Finally, and probably most importantly, you stay with it.
Is it easy? No it’s not. It’s downright tough – one of the toughest (non-life threatening) things one can do; which is probably why so few do it. Even if you do everything that I recommend, there is still no guarantee of success. However, just because it’s not easy, does not mean that you can’t do it.
It takes time, it takes effort, it takes conviction. Who knows — you may be an overnight success just like ZZ Top (ask them, they’ll tell you it was worth it).
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question I often think about. I came across this article (I don’t remember how) and found it very interesting; I thought you might like it as well.