In a world of extreme advertising clutter, your brand needs more than differentiation. It needs RADICAL differentiation. Take to heart this rule: when everyone zigs, zag.
Here are 17 practical stepsof how you can zig when everyone else zags:
1. Who are you? Where do you have the most credibility? Where do you have the most experience? Where do your passions lie? Write a future obituary for your brand.
2. What do you do? What business are you in? Decide what your purpose is, beyond selling a product or service. State your purpose in 12 words or less.
3. What’s your vision? What do you want to accomplish in 5, 10, or 20 years? How can you make this vision palpable and exciting? Paint a vivid picture of your future. Test it in a real piece of communication. Go back and refine it further. Use it repeatedly to illustrate the direction of your business.
4. What wave are you riding? What trend is powering your business? How powerful is it? Can you ride more than one trend at a time? Make a list of the trends that will power your success.
5. What shapes the branscape? Who else competes in your category? Who comes first, second, and third in customers’ minds? Find out how your brand ranks with customers. Design a strategy to become number one or two. Or, become the first mover in a new category.
6. What makes you the “only”? What’s the one thing that makes your brand both different and compelling? Complete a simple onliness statement (i.e. “our ____ is the only ____ that ____”). Add detail by answering what, how, who, where, when, and why.
7. What should you add or subtract? What existing brand elements are undermining your onliness? What new brand elements could strengthen your onliness? How do the remaining elements align with your vision? Make a list of all current and planned offerings and brand elements. Decide which offerings to keep, sacrifice, or add. Be brutal – it’s better to err on the side of sacrifice.
8. Who loves you? Who makes us your brand community? How can you manage the “gives and gets” so everyone’s happy? Diagram your brand’s ecosystem. Decide how each participant will both contribute and benefit.
9. Who’s the enemy? Which competitor can you paint as the bad guy? Tell your customers what you’re not, in no uncertain terms.
10. What do they call you? Is your name helping or hurting your brand? If it’s hurting, is there an opportunity to change it? If it’s too late yo change it, is there a way to work around it? Is is suitable for brandplay? Does it have creative “legs”? Choose a name that’s different, brief, and appropriate. Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce. Find out if the name is available as a domain name. Determine how easy or difficult it will be to legally defend.
11. How do you explain yourself? What’s the one true statement you can make about your brand? Craft a trueline that tells why your brand is compelling. Avoid any commas and “ands”. Turn your trueline into a tagline to use with customers.
12. How do you spread the word? How can you unpack your name, trueline, and tagline? How can you enroll brand advocates through messaging? How can you align all communications with your zag? Make sure your messaging is a different as your brand. Only compete at the touchpoints where you can win.
13. How do people engage with you? What are you selling and how are you selling it? Which touchpoints will let you compete in white space? Map your value proposition against those of your competitors. See which competitive areas you can avoid entirely. Discover customer touchpoints where you’ll be unopposed.
14. What do they experience? How will customers learn about you? How can you “enroll” them in your brand? Who will be your competition at each touchpoint? Where should you put your marketing resources? Map the customer journey from from non-awareness to full enrollment. Bet your resources on the resources that zag.
15. How do you earn their loyalty? How can you help customers build barriers to competition? How can you avoid creating a “disloyalty program?” Start by being loyal to customers. Don’t make new customers feel punished or excluded. Give loyal customers the tools to introduce new customers.
16. How do you extend your success? How do you keep growing the brand year after year? Choose between a house of brands and a branded house. Add extensions that reinforce the brand’s meaning. Avoid extensions that unfocus the brand’s meaning. Avoid extensions that bring you into competition with leaders.
17. How do you protect your portfolio? How can the whole the worth more than the parts? How can you stay focused under short-term profit pressure? Avoid c-sickness – contagion, confusion, contradiction, and complexity. Understand the long term effects of brand extensions.
In the past, your work colleagues and friends might have told you that aiming to work on projects that have a deep, positive impact in society sounds fanciful, idealistic.
You know what? It takes guts to go into the world, do what you feel passionate about, say what you have to say, and take ownership of the potential that lies within you.
Life’s too short not to do something that you’re really passionate about.
Of course there will be times when you’ll be gripped with the fear of failing at something you’ve put much time into.
But if there was one piece of advice that you should hear if you’re holding back from taking on the challenges of entrepreneurship, of shifting your marketing budget toward permission marketing and away from the way too common push marketing, of launching a new product or service you believe in but others don’t, it would be to MOVE FORWARD with your initiative and do things step by step.
Anything that’s worth doing will involve change, getting out of your comfort zone, and most likely putting your reputation on the line.
You may wake up some days telling yourself why our ideas might not work.
Consider this instead: ideas that add value to society, ideas that have integrity, ideas that you’re passionate about can spread and make a massive impact.
So let me inspire and share with you thoughts that will help make your ideas work. Subscribe to AlexRascanu.com, keep an eye on the events I’m organizing, and/ or reach out to me if you have any questions or want some encouragement.
Do what you love. Love what you do.
Note: Seth Godin coined the term permission marketing. He describes it as “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”