Telling Them Where to Go: Brands, Movements and Having a Point of View

Stephen Denny, branding, marketing, Killing GiantsStephen Denny is our guest on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday, September 27th. He is an author, speaker and competitive strategy + marketing consultant. He is the author of  Killing Giants: 10 Strategies To Topple the Goliath In Your Industry and a mini e-book, The Killing Giants Framework: 3 Areas of Excellence That Define How Davids Topple Goliaths.

“There are two kinds of warfare: asymmetric and stupid.”

I had the good fortune to interview Dr. Conrad Crane of the US Army War College in Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath In Your Industry on the subject of finding and nurturing “defendable ground,” a concept as familiar to marketing strategists as it was to Mao’s doctrine of guerilla warfare, and it’s as good place to start any discussion on how to approach your market as any I can think of.

This is an important topic. Far too many companies get substandard financial results from their marketing efforts because they don’t follow Dr. Crane’s somewhat backhanded advice. They follow a somewhat Cartesian “I think therefore I am” branding philosophy that suggests that being available is good enough. It isn’t.

We need to lead with a point of view.

This simple idea should color your branding, your marketing communications, your go-to-market strategy, and virtually everything you do that is visible to others.

One of the first real “live fire” exercises that I personally took part in after the publication of Killing Giants was helping a mid-cap multinational brand in the technology space figure out its point of view – and one that was fighting an uphill fight against an incumbent nearly twice its size. By elevating the narrative in the market above the speeds and feeds – and even the specific product’s perceived benefits – we found a new higher ground that spoke to shared needs and a much bigger picture.

“We really found ourselves in a position where having that point of view gave us the opportunity to get in front of our targets, whether it was partners of customers, in a way that no one had ever done before,”  Jabra North America president Peter Fox said in a recent Brand Fast-Tracker interview we did together. The “Devices Make Experiences” program we developed repositioned Jabra’s headsets as more than just accessories – they became enablers, a critical part of a total product solution that completed the Unified Communications platforms its strategic alliance partners were selling. Together, we were far better for the customer – and far easier to sell. The program thus far has been credited with an eight-figure increase in the brand’s pipeline revenue and an ROI north of 20 to 1.

Have a point of view

I point this out for a big reason. When we talk about “having a point of view” or “seizing the narrative,” we’re not talking about fluffy soft concepts that are nice but have no role in a serious discussion in the board room. Having a point of view and implementing it rigorously drives top line growth. It makes money. And if your marketing isn’t making money – big money, not small incremental gains – you’re in trouble.

To get your point of view on paper, start by asking yourself these questions:

  • If we launched a movement today, what would it be about? (Grassroots movements that galvanize people and seize their imaginations have little to do with features).
  • What would our movement be called? (Giving it a label is important – you need to brand it and make it personal).
  • How is our movement a definition of our brand? (Remember “Eigen Values”? “This sentence has five words.” That’s an eigen value. It’s self-defining. Saying it defines it. Does your movement define your brand? Does your brand define your movement?)

“Interestingness”

We’ve gone well past notions of being simple for simple’s sake at this point. We’re adding a new layer of “interestingness,” nuance and good complexity.

“Brands are like people,” 42Below vodka brand founder Geoff Ross told me in Killing Giants. “You would far rather spend time with a person that is many things… clever, witty, is sound and dependable, a joker… this is in contrast to a lot of old brand thinking that states a brand should only be about one thing.”

So let’s not just be about one thing. Let’s start a movement. Let’s have a point of view that tells our market, “This is what we believe, this is where we’re going and we want you to come along with us.”

Are you with us?

Regards.

  • What’s our ultimate business goal when we talk about “leading with a point of view”?
  • How hard is it to shift to a more “point of view” centric footing? Is this a big change – or a subtle one?
  • What branded POV’s have you seen that you think are powerful?
  • How do we take a strong POV-driven brand and drive results from it?
  • So many fervently believe branding needs to be about “one big thing” – is this at odds with the POV idea?
  • If we’re supposed to be all about “one big thing,” what is the role of complexity? Is it good? Bad?
  • What’s the difference between “experts” and “fans”?  Why is this important?

To learn more about the Jabra “Devices Make Experiences” story, download the mini-e-book, The Killing Giants Framework: 3 Areas of Excellence That Define How Davids Topple Goliaths in the Kindle storefront – you can also download the full transcript of the Pete Fox interview on my website at StephenDenny.com.

About the author: Stephen Denny is our guest on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday, September 27th. He is an author, speaker and competitive strategy + marketing consultant. He is the author of  Killing Giants: 10 Strategies To Topple the Goliath In Your Industry and a mini e-book, The Killing Giants Framework: 3 Areas of Excellence That Define How Davids Topple Goliaths.

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