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  • Writer's pictureRandy DeMuesy

Don't use a jackhammer to do your branding

Good branding requires revealing useful insights about your company, your product and—especially—your target: those people whom you most hope to inspire and serve. Digging for these invaluable human insights is like working a geological site—there’s a whole story there, just waiting to be discovered, and it’s easy to find the large mounds, the basic shapes, the general outlines . . . but, as always, God is in the details.

Cast aside the chunky generalizations

You’ll know them when you smell them:

“We don’t make products, we provide solutions.”

“We always aim to exceed expectations”.

“We have a genuine passion for this thing we do.”

None of this is good enough, deep enough, meaningful enough to help truly differentiate your brand.

That isn’t to say the fact you’ve been in business since 1912 isn’t important to your prospects, its that you need to discover why it’s important and if it’s important enough to consider as a primary message.

And if it isn’t, put it aside . . . or see if there isn’t something special waiting deeper inside. You’ve got to keep carefully and methodically chipping away, tink! tink! tink! tink!, question by question, knocking away the predictable, blowing off the mundane, yielding your pointed questions as you would a wee little pick and brush, to slowly expose and sift through the sands of information and insight, revealing a beautiful and intricate truth that is at the heart of the matter.

Who? What? How? And the best question of all…why?

The large corporation wanted to fit three different sub-brand products (made with their compound) under one relevant and meaningful brand position . . . relevant and meaningful to architects, specifiers and workers around the world, no less.

Digging for the essence of the brand promise, this is essentially what happened:

Our brand promise? Easy . . . We are the leading provider of advanced compounds and expert advice to produce superior products . . . the end.”

Says who?

“Well . . . we see ourselves as leaders.”

Hmm. What specifically makes you the leader—total sales? Total earnings? More new product introductions every year than anybody else?

"It means we’ve been doing this longer than anybody."

Why is that important?

"Over time, we’ve developed a more dependable distribution chain."

Do you have an example? "

We can get our product anywhere it’s needed in the world within a couple days."

Why is two-day delivery important? "

If a tradesman in India doesn’t have the part when he needs it, his customer will get somebody else to do the job."

Tink! tink! tink! tink!

Any other reason ‘we’ve been doing this longer’ should have meaning to your target?

"Our deep relationships with the governing boards in other countries—they actually include our input regarding regulations, we actually influence local building codes."

Why is that good?

"We help open up more project opportunities for tradesmen in the industry."

Why wouldn’t that benefit your competitors just as much?

"Because we offer extensive, on-site training for our customers’ workers, so they know for sure how to install our specialized product to meet all the new regulations."

So they can feel more confident about the install? "

Yeah. And we invented the compound used in the product—it’s the same compound our competitor’s use in theirs, so . . . we essentially invented that industry."

whisk! whisk! whisk! whisk!

So, they know your product will be there, the technology will be there, more work opportunities will be there . . .

"Right . . . we offer customers more reliability all around."

Why is 'reliability' so important? What is the value of 'reliability'?

"Reliability offers them more stability . . ."

What the value of stability?

"If a business has more stability, it can give them more confidence to go ahead and make the investments they need in more equipment or people to grow their business . . ."

Not long after, following a few more questions to qualify and clarify, a brand promise that had begun as a ho-hum ‘We are the leading provider of advanced compounds and expert advice to produced superior products” was continuously chipped away at to reveal a much more potent, distinguishing, meaningful, and useful ‘We provide a refreshing level of reliability that provides the confidence a company needs to pursue real growth”

Unearth a gem

Get your team together. Start digging for the truth. Once you’ve revealed a big piece of your story, keep questioning the meaning of it, the value of it, why the heck your customer should care about it, how the ultimate truth of it meets your customer's core needs . . . get down on your hands and knees, use that small pick and brush, clear away the minutia, lean in closer, squint a bit, and you'll soon see what you've revealed that is so beautiful, valuable one-of-a-kind and . . . yours and yours alone.

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