By Yonatan Gordon
This article is about brands and marketing, but not in the typical sense. While we want each and every one of you to be successful in what you do, a business or project is not something that can simply be tucked away on Aisle 5 of the supermarket. Before we venture further to explain what we mean, we’re going to first bring a well-known quote from Steve Jobs. Note that the reference to “boxes,” is because these words were said when all Apple sold were box-shaped desktop computers:
“What we’re about is not making boxes in order for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. But at it’s core, we believe that people with passion, can change the world for the better.”
With these words, Jobs introduced one of the most successful branding campaigns in recent times, called the “Think Different” campaign. The impact of these two words, is not simply that it provided a clear suggestion to chose them over Microsoft-based products. If that were the case, then as was originally suggested to Jobs, maybe the two words should have been “Think Differently”? But Jobs wanted to convey something more than to say that Apple is a viable alternative to a world dominated by Microsoft. Let’s now bring a few words from Walter Isaacson’s telling biography about Jobs:
“They debated the grammatical issue: If “different” was supposed to modify the verb “think,” it should be an adverb, as in “think differently.” But Jobs insisted that he wanted “different” to be used as a noun, as in “think victory” or “think beauty.” Also, it echoed colloquial use, as in “think big.” Jobs later explained, “We discussed whether it was correct before we ran it. It’s grammatical, if you think about what we’re trying to say. It’s not think the same, it’s think different. Think a little different, think a lot different, think different. ‘Think differently’ wouldn’t hit the meaning for me.”
Why did we mention all this? Because even if your business isn’t Apple, there is something about you that no one else has exactly the same. In that same speech, Jobs brought the example of another top brand in America, Nike. He said that although they sell rubber, their “Just Do It” slogan conveys something most profound. At Nike’s core, they are inspiring people to lead more active and healthy lives. Just as Apple fosters creativity and imagination, Nike encourages physical forms of personal expression.
It is no wonder then that their “Find Your Greatness” day last August was met with such success. In that campaign, Nike encouraged their 8.5 million Facebook fans, and news outlets across the country, to make Sunday, August 12th “your most active day ever.”
Nowhere in the promotions was Nike encouraging people to buy Nike products on that day, or even run and jump using Nike shoes. Instead, their focus was to further the core idea behind their company and brand. More than product advertising, consumers want to associate with a brand they can connect and relate to. While the effect of this campaign can’t be precisely measured in sales, now six months later, they have over 12 million Facebook fans (compared to 8.5 million at the start of the campaign).
Now it’s your turn. It’s time to look at what you do, and try and sum it up in three words or less. We know, it’s easier said than done. But if Apple can find two words, and Nike three, then there is at least some precedent to follow.
One easy word of advice is to be open to feedback. If you sell something on Amazon, this comes rather easy. Just see what excites people about your products, and begin constructing your marketing initiatives around that. But for those in the service industry, at first glance, it seems that any competent accountant, lawyer, or doctor can pretty much do the same thing.
This is where personality comes into play. Instead of finding those few words to serve as your Vision Statement motto, the specialists or practitioners themselves are the statement for the business. This is where recommendations, and general word of mouth support, make all the difference. Given the same set of skills and competency level, matters of honesty, integrity, and friendly personal demeanor, serve as your greatest “marketing” tools.
Even for companies that sell products like Apple, personality still plays a role. There have been dozens of articles written about the difference at Apple now, and when Jobs held the reign. Before reading these articles, you would think that the discussion should focus on the difference in product updates; between the original iPad that Jobs helped design, and the current models for instance. But while this is discussed, this is by no means the locus of these articles. Instead, most popular journalists speak of leadership and guiding principles. Or as Jobs would say it, is Apple still acting upon its core values?
While we may not think that happiness actually resides in a can of Coca-Cola, or purity in a Poland Spring bottle, more than the actual ingredients, concepts are the stuff that products are made of. This is the stuff that compelling brands are made of.
Potential clients interested in a free Vision Statement analysis can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.