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The Difference Between A Weak Brand And A Strong Brand

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

The biggest mistake a brand can make is to try being all things to everyone. Weak brands settle for doing what’s easy or obvious. They appeal to the market of everyone, avoid the edges and thus become interchangeable with their competitors.

Strong brands know they are this and not that. They intentionally aspire to be something to someone and so become irreplaceable to their customers.

Who’s your someone? What do you want to be to them?

Image by Nathan Makan

The Choice

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

We know how the trip will pan out even before we get on the tram. The driver is agitated. He uses his bell accordingly. He repeatedly ‘dings’ three times, announcing his tram’s presence on the road. His bell is warning system—reflecting his mood. Everything becomes an emergency. How the driver operates the bell changes his attitude and the way he drives the tram. It also changes the posture of the passengers on board. We collectively become jumpier.

Contrast the ‘treble ring’ warning system with the way most Melbourne tram drivers use the bell. They ‘ding’ in a potentially dangerous situation—to alert a cyclist and distracted pedestrians or to let passengers know the tram is about to start moving. Often their bell signals a friendly greeting to other tram drivers as they pass each other on the road. I can empathise with the ‘treble ring’ tram driver. Perhaps he’d just had one of those days? But he has more power than he realises.

We each get the chance to, as author Neil Gaiman says, ‘make the world better for our having been here.’ How we show up to do that is a choice.

Image by Edward Blake

How To Fill The Gap That’s Yours To Fill

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

No bookstore can stock more books than Amazon. No local clothing designer can launch a new range faster than Zara. No artisan chocolatier can sell chocolate cheaper than Cadbury.

If there’s nothing your bigger, faster, cheaper competitors can’t do, how will your business keep up? How will you survive, let alone thrive?

Your sustainable advantage comes, not by obsessing over what your competitors can’t do, but by doing what they won’t do to delight customers. That gap is yours to fill.

That’s how Amazon became Amazon—by investing in and doing the things other retailers didn’t do. And it’s how you will build a business you’re proud of as you create the future you want to see.

Image by Shinya Suzuki

Squaring The Marketing Circle

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

The ‘60% OFF’ signs had attracted shoppers to the empty stall. Sales assistants tried to turn browsers into buyers by offering to help. One prospective customer asked if they had any circular rugs in the sale. The assistant showed her a square rug instead. “These are only $100,” she said.

In the past, we’ve relied on the notion that marketing and sales are about making people want something. In a digital world of infinite choices, we’re coming to realise that it’s easier to make something people want.

A sale happens in two stages. Stage one is a deep understanding of the customer we want to serve. Stage two is the act of engaging with that customer.

Successful marketers do both.

Image by eatswords

Big Enough

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Conventional business wisdom suggests that success is dependent on achieving scale. We’ve come to equate fulfilling our potential with being number one—having the biggest piece of the pie. In our quest for success, we sometimes forget to question how much pie is enough.

Exceeding the optimal amount of pie has consequences. We fail to deliver on expectations when we bite off more than we can chew. We become preoccupied with the acquisition of customers instead of working to keep the customers we have. We obsess about sustaining an advantage and forget to celebrate what we’ve accomplished. We move too fast or too soon. We don’t reflect on the difference we’re making. And we stop enjoying the journey because we’re always chasing a bigger piece of the pie.

You don’t need every customer. You don’t have to go after every single opportunity. You don’t need to be bound by traditional metrics of success. You can choose to be big enough.

Image by srietzke

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