You are the best at what you do. Nobody in your category or line of work can claim superiority. You're second to none. Period. Then why is it so @#$% hard to grow, let alone scale? Here's why:
Unless your customers are elves fresh off the permafrost, being 'the best' is barely the cost of entry. Nothing more.
To get noticed, break through and ultimately reach scale, you have to (a) marry being what you are best at with a unique and relevant brand promise – one that either trumps your category or creates a new category altogether; and (b) patiently, yet unflinchingly, deliver on that brand promise, day in and year out. Only if you do that – and I can help you do just that – will you get a shot at building something great.
The caveat? It takes time. Nowhere is it more true than in branding that people overestimate what can be done in one year...only to grossly underestimate what can be done in ten. The upside? It makes the journey a lot of fun!
Need an example? Changing the face of men's health globally can be as simple as growing a moustache if you can muster the persistence, patience and guts to take that stand:
Think it's worth a shot?
Everybody talks about differentiation as the silver bullet in branding: "Stand out from the pack!", "Be unique!", "When others zig, you zag!" But there's more to the equation. Now I’m not a fan of cigarettes…but the lesson Phillip Morris offers us in the distinction between "being different" and "being different + relevant" is too valuable to pass up.
In 1924, Phillip Morris launches the Marlboro brand as the first ladies’ cigarette. Like all women’s cigarettes, it had a filter – but Marlboro was the only brand that had "A Beauty Tip" a printed red band around its filter to hide lipstick stains. For 29 straight years, Phillip Morris put their considerable marketing muscle behind this clearly differentiated brand…and for 29 straight years Marlboro never once reached even one percent market share.
Fast forward to 1953. Scientists have just established that smoking tobacco causes lung cancer. Now, male smokers need a filter cigarette. But, instead of launching a new brand touting the cancer risk reducing properties of a filter (a slippery slope if there ever was one) advertising legend Leo Burnett simply changes Marlboro’s sex. That is, he makes it cool for men to smoke an established filter cigarette. So cool, in fact, that Marlboro becomes the leading cigarette brand within a year or two – a distinction it has now had for over five decades...currently commanding about a 42% (Forty-Two!) percent share of the global cigarette market. In short, Leo Burnett made the brand differentiation relevant.
Is your brand’s difference relevant...or is it just different? Your share of your market – and how hard you have to work for it – might be a telling indicator.