You’re at lunch with a new networking contact. It’s a Tuesday. Or a Wednesday. Okay, it doesn’t matter what day it is, or what you order. Following an hour-long discussion and meal, you head your separate ways and what matters is this: Even after that hour conversation, you still don’t have a clear idea of what that person does.


You have every intention of sending business their way, but you can’t put your finger on who or when would be an appropriate introduction.

Now imagine this networking friend having the same experience with you. After an hour-long discussion about your business, she walks away unclear about your value proposition--or with a complete misunderstanding of it.

From a business perspective, that lunch would be a complete waste of time. Why? Because if people don’t understand what you door don’t rememberit’s like you never even told them.

This is why you need a ready-to-go elevator pitch for your brand--one that contacts will listen, understand, remember, and act upon.

Make Sure the Right Idea Sticks

With every new person you meet, you have a tiny window of time, focus, and/or attention span. Too many details increase the chances that the idea(s) that sticks won’t be helpful for your business.

For example, if you have coffee with someone who tells you he collects Godzilla dolls and likes to swim with sharks, you may only remember him as “Jim, the thrill-seeking Godzilla collector.” But maybe Jim’s a big data wiz, and you come away knowing zero about that. You won’t be likely to refer business to him.

Best to pick a focal pointand carve your inroad there!

By narrowing your brand down to a simple concept, you frame the conversation as it benefits you, answering questions, giving examples, and even floating a few referral phrases. This way, you increase your chances that your name will pop up at the right time, and in the right conversation. After that, you can still touch on sharks--and feel confident that your central point will stick.

How to Determine Your “One Thing”

Finding your brand’s focal point can be difficult. As part of our Brandup Bootcamp, we’ve devised a formula that we teach to Badass-Brands-in-training.

Your “one thing” can come in a variety of forms, and you can also have multiple “one things”--your focus may shift depending on your audience. But it must always adhere to one major rule: It has to be something your competitors can’t and won’t say.

For example, we branded a financial plan for Stash Wealth, a wealth management company called Stash Wealth. We productized the “Stash Plan,” a flat-rate plan designed as the first step of any client relationship, which dives deep into a client’s goals, cash flow, and future. Now, when Stash speaks to potential clients, the Stash Plan is the only thing they want people to remember--it’s different, unique, cool, and shareable.

So, even though there are a lot of interesting things about Stash Wealth--like the fact that they work exclusively with 20- and 30-something HENRYs (High Earners Not Rich Yet)--they understand that everyone who leaves a conversation knowing the benefits of a Stash Plan is well on their way to becoming a client.

We Know Our Focus. Let Us Help Find Yours!

At Worstofall Design, our “one thing” is building Badass Brands in less than three days. We call this “without the bullshit.” For specific audiences, we may shift focus to our Brandshrink--a 90-minute deep-dive interview, where we identify a brand’s badassery and create a plan for how to unmask it.

Depending on who we’re talking to, we strategically plot out our approach. Both ideas are clear, branded, and unique to Worstofall--so when we frame a conversation around Brandshrinks or “no BS” branding, we know people will walk away with a distinct differentiator.

What’s your “one thing”?

Explore your material, nail that phrase, and watch your business grow.


If you want a business that attracts all ideal clients, you need to give them something to talk about.

Gossip gets a bad rap, especially considering it seems all PR is good PR these days.

Hell, we've got a presidential candidate who barely had to spend money on his campaign because he was so gossip-worthy! At Worstofall, we want people gossiping about us, too. That is, talking about us to their friends. Because good gossip is the best form marketing—free and reliable! And it builds reputation better than anything else.


People share things that are… Entertaining

Whether it’s a polarizing political article or an adorable puppy licking a giggling baby, content that revs up our emotional juices are fun to share because they inspire reactions. This is obvious when it comes to Trump & puppies, but how does it relate to your business?

Take Night, a luxury pillow company that is as much a beauty product as a sleep buddy. We built their brand a couple years ago, and encouraged them to embrace the authentically sassy voice of their cofounders Kalle & Isaac. 

A recent blog post of theirs had me laughing so hard I had to forward it to a few friends. A behind-the-scenes story of Isaac’s trip across the country to personally deliver their product to Kim Kardashian, including a series of travel missteps and how airport miracle worker “Linda” made magic happen, was both entertaining and personal. It infused a brand (whose sole product is a black, silk pillow) with personality that makes you want to hang out with the founders.

What fun and entertaining stories can you share that let us in on the people behind the brand? 

People share things that are… easy to share

I bet there are a ton of people that know and trust you that would love to send you business... but they don’t. This is usually because you’re not easy to share with others because:

  • You are selling something generic that lots of other people are selling. In their most genuine tone the only reason they have to tell their friend to contact you is because they like you. “You should call my friend who’s an insurance broker because… he’s a great guy!” Not a very compelling sell.

  • What you do is hard to explain, so it’s hard to bring it up. “My friend does this energy healing thing, I’m not sure exactly how she does it but she makes you feel better. You should try it!” Hmm… really?

  • It’s completely unclear how much you cost, so others are fearful of sending the wrong people to you because it may make them look bad. Either they send you someone who can't afford you (and wastes your time), or they send you a client who is ready to spend a lot more and then feels like their time was wasted when they find out you are at a much lower price, and therefore not in the league they were looking for.

Having a clear idea, action or product that makes you easy to talk about and share can change this. One example: we productized SAT test prep company Ivy Lounge Test Prep’s first meeting into an “Ace the Test Game Plan.”  Instead of an hourly test prep tutor, Ivy Lounge offers a $750 package where they do a full assessment of the student’s testing abilities, diagnose strengths and weaknesses, discuss test score and college goals, and gives a full report with an action plan on how to achieve said goals.

This is both easy for students and parents to share, and it lets everyone know the price range of their services. Instead of being another, albeit great, test tutor, they have something clearly defined that others can talk about.

People share things that… are unexpected

There are so many unexpected ways to be unexpected, but I’ll share my favorite one here: say "no" to clients that aren’t ideal for you. Nobody forgets the company that said “no” to them, whether explicitly ("we're not a match"), or implicitly by pricing themselves out of certain clients.

We just got an amazing client from a prospect who wanted to work with us months ago but couldn’t afford our services. Instead of feeling disillusioned, she was motivated to get her business to a more established spot so she could afford our services. In the meantime she became a raving fan who told her colleague that they had to work with us because they could afford it.

Are you gossip worthy?

Do you have something clear and specific that makes it easy for your friends, colleagues and fans to share you with others?

Download our minishrink interview and find out what makes YOU so badass.


To a business strategist like me, it’s infuriating—and puzzling—that so many service companies try to be everything to everyone. If only they knew what we know: specializing is the most powerful branding play. By far.

When you narrow your focal point, you are suddenly seen as an expert in a focused area.

(Now I'm trusting you with this valuable info! Because narrowing will elevate your brand and your perceived expertise, regardless of whether or not you are actually an expert. So please use these powers for good.)

What else can narrowing do for you? Make your company instantaneously memorable, increase the likelihood of referrals—and even help you command premium pricing.


Sounds pretty Badass, huh? But how do you figure out what to focus on?

Well... don't just pick something out of a hat! #worstideaever

Specializing for specializing’s sake is weak—we’re looking for what gets you jazzed to get out of bed in the morning. What keeps you going, with or without a caffeine fix? It has to be a skill you love, for clients you enjoy being around, or else... seriously what’s the point?.

Once you nab it, and commit to it, it's like pouring jet fuel on the engine. 

Start Here: Focus on the Winners

To find your niche, look back at your favorite projects, clients, and experiences. Who have been the best clients to work with? Why did you enjoy those projects and people? Once you understand what makes a client ideal, you’ll have a clear direction for your specialization.

Usually, I use these benchmarks to evaluate and identify “ideal” past clients:

  • They had problems your background, expertise and experience made you ideally qualified to fix

  • The project scope, budget, and timeframe allowed you to fulfill on your promises to the best of your abilities

  • You’re proud of the value you delivered, and they were impressed and excited about the final result

  • They understood your value and were willing to pay your premium price without blinking, bargaining, or bartering (Also, they paid you on-time!)

If you've had clients like this, start there. If you’ve never had such a magical experience, choose the project that runs closest—then figure out how to make it magical.

Be Master of Your Domain

As a small business owner, you’re in a unique position: You have the power to build your business exactly how you’d like.  <<click to tweet>>

If you feel like you need $5,000 to deliver your best value, then you need to charge $5,000 for your services. And if you don’t think anyone out there will pay $5,000 for your services, you’re either hanging around the wrong crowd, or need to revamp your offering and messaging. 

Present and polish your brand so that the price tag makes sense. With a crisp, clear, sophisticated brand and message you will be attractive to the clients you actually want to work with.

Case in Point: The Wedding Industrial Complex

I recently spoke with a woman who creates custom paintings of weddings as beautiful mementos for the happy couple. Charging about $1,500 per painting, she worried about the future of her business because people were haggling.

But she’s in the wedding business—an industry where price sensitivity goes out the window.

What an opportunity!

If you’re running into consistent bartering like her, you’re talking to the wrong people. Once you acknowledge and accept that, you can adjust your strategy and course. For our wedding artist, the money and market most certainly exist, she just has to own that positioning in the market. Be a higher end service, stick to what she wants from the deal (i.e. her price), and then only put effort into marketing to the people who have the right budget.

If she identifies potential referral partners that cater to $250,000+ weddings, and then only puts energy into connecting with them, she will build a reputation with a higher-end market. She may have to polish up her website and process. She may need to invest in nicer boxes in which to deliver the paintings (presentation goes a long way with premium priced services.) She probably needs to dress the part (can't show up to a million dollar wedding in discount clothing.) Plus, with $1,500 prices on her site, she’ll never sell a painting for $5,000 or $10,000. But with the right messaging and targeting, she can reinvent her brand and position herself specifically in that $5-10,000 price range (or much higher.) 

Cause you might as well...

You don't need to be in the wedding industry to charge a premium. There is a premium version of any service in every industry. Why shouldn't it be you? 

Specializing bestows enormous power in your space. To pick your focus effectively, identify your ideal process, clients, and price point, and build your brand's positioning around that. It’s difficult enough to build and manage a successful business, in general, so you may as well center it around something you truly love (and that's profitable!)

In fact, if you enjoy it, you’ll have a better shot at success, and the benefits will extend much further than your company’s bank account--inspiring you to commit fully to each project and deliver the highest value possible.

To truly find your powerful niche takes digging deeper than you might otherwise go. It’s a process I put all my clients through in my Brandshrink and you can download some of my best questions in my Minishrink here.


We are constantly preaching about how you must be different, and say "no" to business outside your niche, if you want a profitable business that attracts clients. We also talk about how this takes guts. And we know because we almost didn't have the guts to do it either!


Clients may not come easy at first.

For the first 3 years of our business, I was constantly pounding the pavement, hoping I’d find new work in the rubble. I networked every day, so I met a lot of people. As a personable, amicable female, people wanted to refer me to their colleagues and bosses.

But many of them seemed to have the same problem:

I just can’t refer “Worstofall Design” to my boss.

What I didn't know then that I know now? They just weren't our clients.

Don’t Get Defensive

When I did get referrals, people often introduced my company with an immediate qualifier, like: “Worstofall Design is named after the creative director Steve Wasterval, but they’re actually really good!” C’mon! I did not need or want a defensive intro right out of the gate. That type of introduction lacked confidence, and it didn’t set my company up to knock it out of the park.

After hearing about people’s hesitance to refer us, I spoke to Steve. If we created another company called “WOA Design”--with a website that showed off only our corporate work--we could easily market our services to these BNI/networking clients. With a more corporate arm of our company, we could effectively appeal to the people who just didn’t get “Worstofall.”

Let Your Brand Speak for Itself

At first, Steve humored me. We put it on our to-do list, but that’s the furthest we got. As I recall, we became too busy to develop a new corporate brand--and, thankfully, the idea fizzled out. 

But what if it hadn’t? Had we built “WOA Design,” I’m not sure we ever would’ve developed into the Badass Brand we are today. We wouldn’t have given the brand the time and attention to get it there, because we would have had a trickle of corporate clients to placate us into settling for a generic brand that brought us just enough business (instead of a badass brand that brought us tons of business!)

Being different is scary, and we get it. It’s hard to put yourself out there, then hear people say they want to refer your business, but can’t. Most people would just change their business right then and there.

But what many don’t understand is that this is where the power lies:

having the guts to commit to what makes you different when some people tell you it’s wrong or that they don’t like it. If you build a brand that’s authentic and unique to you, and stick with it, you can establish a reputation that precedes you.

And that’s when you get to attract clients and charge more than your competitors.

To be loved by some, you must accept being disliked (or even misunderstood) by others.

So ask yourself:

What kind of business do you really want?


So you want to be different, huh? Yeah, we’ve heard that once or twice. We’ve also known clients that want their brands to be edgy, standout, truly badass

We all know "be different" is good advice. What nobody seems to be talking about is why getting to "different" is so damn hard to achieve.. and what you can do to get there.



1. Because sometimes the world can seem like one long, bad, judge-y first date

Different isn’t difficult because you don’t have it. You’re different. Even if we don’t know you, we already know that. 

Different is difficult because it’s hard to stick your neck out, and risk being JUDGED.

At their core, badass brands are different, and that can feel scary.

People instinctively want to fit in, are driven to belong. It’s how we create the human connections we need to survive. Standing out from the crowd makes us vulnerable to being noticed, ostracized, and rejected.

That’s why being a Badass Brand requires guts. You have to be ready for some people to not like you, or even to actively dislike you--even while others proclaim their devotion! 

Because the only things that most people like is generic stuff, like Q-tips and famous paintings of pretty flowers (and even then, there are plenty of people who hate these things.)

Point is: there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you are about or what you have to say. So if you get really comfortable with that idea you can start to actually embrace something that your people will love. 


2. Because we are naturally prone to feeling like there is scarcity

Badass Brands understand the power of "no" (another scary word in business). Whether by rejecting less than ideal project, or pricing yourself out of a budget, or because the project isn't exciting to you, “no” commands respect. Most business owners can’t say no to a sale because they are in a mindset of constant desperation. But successful business owners know that “no” is their best friend.
Saying no is hard. 


3. Because when we say “I don’t care” what we really mean is I care A LOT

Badass Brands “give no fucks.”  I had a speaking coach who told me the best speakers “give no fucks” about audience judgement. You are up there for a reason, so deliver your speech with "no fucks given" and people will listen. Confidence is attractive, and confidence comes from being comfortable being yourself. But to give no fucks about what anyone else thinks about you, it's a skill that's hard to master.

(Even as I write this, I am somewhat uncomfortable with my jarring use of the word “fuck,” which even I agree is a little uncouth for a business article. The irony is not lost on me, hence I will continue to fucking write it, if only to illustrate the fucking point.)

Self doubt and fear of judgement are the main reasons most people will never have a badass brand. But having that doubt and doing it anyway? 


That’s called guts, and it's badass.

So, when you say you want to be different, what you really need to ask yourself is- do I have the balls to be different?



Stash Wealth was terrified at first to charge for their Stash Plan. Nobody else in their industry did it, and therefore they thought it meant they couldn’t do it. But that’s exactly why they should have done it!

I want you to take a minute right now and think about all the value you give your clients before they even hire you. That’s all those free conversations where you’re giving them loads of information trying to get them to sign up to work with you.

Now come up with a way to package that so you can sell that time instead of just give it away for free.

Price it at whatever feels comfortable, honestly it doesn’t even matter at first. The point is you need to get used to charging for your information and telling people that it’s valuable.

Now I want you to call up a former lead, someone who was interested in working with you but didn’t sign on, and I want you to sell them this product. Price it so that it’s a no brainer. They were interested enough in working with you to speak with you, so they are already half way to the sale. This is a low cost way to pick your brain, so give it a try!

And don’t feel defeated if they don’t bite, just call someone else. Keep doing this until you sell one.

Here’s a recent email I got from someone who heard me speak about this method:

“I wanted you to know I implemented your lead product strategy 3 times and have had 2 people go for it. So that’s an additional $990 I can directly attribute to your advice!

Also, this was (2 hours of) work I used to do for free before sales calls so my life is much easier… With one move I’m added a new revenue stream, saved time, and can better scale my business = )

Here’s a big, heartfelt THANK YOU!”

I have had so many clients send me emails like that. IT WORKS! But badasses only- it’s not easy charging for something you’re used to doing for free.

See the article above on why that is.

Then stare it down and do it anyway.


"What's your mission? Why do you do this? What do you stand for?" wah wah....


These are the questions that most branding companies will ask you when trying to get to the heart of the "why" about your company. Unfortunately, generic questions like that tend to produce generic answers. Want to avoid the generic fluff your competitors are pumping out in their brands? 

Instead, ask yourself: What do you stand against? 

What pisses you off about your industry? What do you hate about your industry that you want to improve?

What are others in your industry doing that YOU do better?

By finding out what you are against, you will get a much clearer picture of what separates you from the rest. It’s even better if you find you are against things your competitors are for. This means your message will resonate with clients who think similarly, and it can help potential clients make a clear distinction between you and your competitors. That’s the goal, right?

Identify a problem you care about

We worked with a speaking coach who just hated dull speakers who put their audiences to sleep. Her homepage now reads: “On a mission to rid the world of boredom, one speaker at a time.” This copy is fun and entertaining—not corporate and stodgy like her competitors’ sites. Once she realized she was against boring speeches, she embraced her spunky, entertaining side.

Another client of ours, Moderna Capital, came to us because they had a nice looking website and tons of experience in their field, but they couldn’t get clients. They were a boutique wealth management firm started by a pair of ex-Merrill Lynch advisors, and they wanted to give “young professionals” financial advice. 

When we Brandshrinked them, I asked them what pissed them off about their industry, and they got really heated. They told us they were fed up that Merrill Lynch only worked with people who had a minimum of $500,000 in liquid assets. They believed people who were still BUILDING their businesses and careers—people who might not have had that kind of money yet—should still have access to reliable, financial advisors and advice. 

They were against the big corporate Merrill Lynch way, yet they had built a brand that still looked a lot like Merrill Lynch. The copy was a little more hip, but it didn’t reflect the passion they expressed when they spoke about their disagreement with Merrill Lynch’ values.

Distinguish yourself through your passion

By truly understanding what they were AGAINST, we could build a brand that sounds and looks like it stands for something that’s actually different from Moderna Capital’s competitors. 

Rather than say they “break from the mold,” their brand now actually breaks from the Merrill Lynch mold through its fresh look, copy, and vibe. Their target market of young professionals wants bite-sized info—or “financial cliffnotes,” as we called them—and so we expanded their services to include fun seminars and products that are accessible for smaller budgets. Moderna Capital eventually gave in and renamed their company to “Stash Wealth” with our full support. They are now killing it as a highly coveted financial voice for the millennial generation.

Maybe you’re a therapist who hates the touchy-feely image that therapy has. Or a personal trainer who is so annoyed at all these quick-fix gimmicks like 5-minute abs. Or a marketing company that thinks it’s wasteful for small businesses to advertise to get new clients when they haven’t fully mined their current and past clients for more business, which are 70% cheaper to close.

Whatever the industry, most people go into business for themselves because they worked in a company and thought, “I could do it better.”

Take a few minutes to jot down the first things that come to mind when you ask yourself, “What am I against?” It’s a hack that helps cut through the crap of standing for generic fluff.


Boring is probably the worst insult you can get. I think most people would rather be mean or rude than boring. Boring means nobody cares to think of you because there's not much to think.

So why do so many businesses settle for being boring? 

Here are three common things businesses do that make them boring and bland, and what to do instead if you want to titillate your audience


1. Use superlatives

Unless a reputable source said it’s so (and you can cite them), saying you are The Best at anything is pretty lame. How do we know you’re the best-- because you said so? Of course you’re going to say that, you’ve got a pretty obvious agenda.

Give some specifics. Whether it’s Geiko saying they will save you 10% or more on car insurance (instead of saying they are “the cheapest”), or Dominos saying they will deliver your pizza in 30 minutes or less or it’s free (instead of saying they have fast delivery), Specifics are more believable and will go much farther than some generic claim with nothing to back it up or compare it to.

You can also say something entirely different and badass- but that’s a different article.


2. Write too many words

Unless we are sitting down to read a book we actually want to read, we don’t want to read. So if you can’t sum up your point in a few sentences or less, don’t bother writing it.

And break up your points with paragraphs.

And use headlines.

Because they are easier to read, and lots of words are boring.


3. Talk about yourself

It’s hard not to talk about ourselves, after all we are the inspiration and the reason for our business' existence. Maybe compare it to being ones child, an extension of ourselves. We are the center of our own universes, and it’s a habit that’s hard to shake.

So it’s no wonder that everyone has their bio, their story, and their history all over their website. It’s the story we know, and it feels important.

But you know what is interesting and important to me, the customer? What you’re going to do for me. How looking at your website, or learning about your company, is going to benefit me.

Us customers are not just self-centered a-holes, and it's not as cold and sad as it sounds. It’s actually quite wonderful! It’s the reason businesses exist: to create and give value to others. It’s a noble cause that comes with a perk of being able to support yourself monetarily.

So do us a solid and talk more about the value you created for us, and how it’s going to help us, and stop telling us about your hobbies and pets and how long you’ve been in business (I don’t want the oldest company, I want the most effective company for solving my problem.)

Your customers, and your bank account, will thank you handsomely.



A lot of companies talk about being authentic because we all gravitate to organizations that feel honest; it’s refreshing and builds trust. But today the guy who says “trust me, we're honest” has the opposite of the intended affect.

Being Real Isn't as Easy as it Sounds


In branding, authenticity is defined as delivering on your brand promise. Say what you are, and relentlessly back it up. Of course you must have a brand promise to begin with, which means standing for something in everything that you do. It's actually the opposite of being exactly who you are, because if you show all the different aspects of your company, you will confuse your customers who won't understand what you "authentically" stand for. As a person, you're complex and hard to define simply and quickly, but your brand message should not be.


3 Obvious/Not Obvious Ways to be Authentic

1. Don't Say You're Honest, BE Honest

Not because you are dishonest, but because everyone says they are honest (and nobody says they are dishonest). This white-washed message carries little weight in the eye of the consumer. To be authentic, you must instead demonstrate your honesty through the actions and behavior of your brand. Don’t say anything you aren’t 100% confident you can back up.


"You Above All"

All airlines say they are about the customers, but JetBlue does an amazing job of making all of their company decisions in line with their brand promise. Fewer rows in each plane for more legroom, first bag checked for free, unlimited free snacks and Direct TV. This is a brand that you really believe puts “you above all” and the success of their company is not unrelated to their badass authenticity.

Those authentic actions become stories told to friends, increasing the people in your sales pipeline over time. Conversely, not fulfilling your brand promise through actions makes that an even more fun story to share, and not in your favor. And that means lasting damage to your image and business.


2. Owning a Negative Has Just as Much Potential

Since everyone says they have great customer service, their product is the best, yadda yadda... these messages can start to feel trite and, at times, even dishonest. 

In the last few years, Dominos has been playing up their less-than-gourmet pizza in an ad campaign, inviting, and then showing off, all the brutal criticisms. This vulnerability and honesty about their product worked, the campaign (and new recipe) catapulted the chain’s stock price from $12 per share to more than $75 in 4 years.

Being authentic in this way very badass. It takes guts to show your flaws and being unapologetic about what it is your company really cares about and what it doesn't care about, which are equally important. This approach to branding inherently makes your business stand out as different in the face of a sea of corporate jargon and bland sameness. Keep it up and don't fall into the vacuum of status quo; that continued effort will build your authenticity over time.

3. Terrible Situations Are Your Chance To Be “Authentic”

You don’t have to be perfect, quite the opposite! When hiccups do happen (and they do for everyone), look at it as an opportunity to flex those muscles and show customers those benefits you have been selling. By handling the situation in line with your brand promises, you'll get everyone raving about your great customer service before you have a chance to brag about yourself (*note: bragging sucks, other people bragging about you is delicious)


Authenticity is built by how a company acts everyday with every client interaction, not by saying it's so. Be it a luxury company whose touch points are always dressed to the nines, or a service company who always responds to email within 30 minutes (even if just to say you will get back to your customer with an answer shortly). Being yourself, or "authentic", takes direction, planning, and consistent effort.


“Why should I hire you over the competition? It's THE question that everyone is trying to answer.

"Saying you are unique, or that you think outside the box, is the surest way to let people know you don't think outside the box."&nbsp;-   Badass People

"Saying you are unique, or that you think outside the box, is the surest way to let people know you don't think outside the box." - Badass People

Below we've broken it down in to clear, tactical ways you can set yourself apart, with some fun real world examples. 



Badass brands utilizes new language, language not often used in their industry, as a means of differentiation. It allows them to take something that already exists, put their own spin and personality on it (ahem, brand) and then own it like it's new (because in many ways, it is!)

Starbucks is a great example as it is the only place you can order a Venti Frappuccino and, for a company whose product is 90% water, charge quite a premium on those caffeinated cocktails. Their unique naming system is one of many ways they set themselves apart from their competitors.

Indeed I know many loyal customers that use that terminology when ordering in a non-Starbucks coffeehouse (whoops).

Example amazing brand starbucks


Nespresso created a new category by repackaging an old idea in a new way. Instant espresso had a low-end connotation, so they made up a new word and developed a high-end, high quality image associated with a quality, European espresso. While there are lots of pod coffee machines out there, Nespresso is in a category all on its own.

(To further demonstrate the power of branding did you know that Nestlé owns the company? Not a brand you would associate with European quality espresso, which is probably why they don't advertise that!)


Using different words than your competitors is a great opportunity to set yourself apart. Often, in an attempt to be loved by everyone, companies often use generic words like “quality leadership, delighting customers, great customer service” to express what makes them great to work with.

As a small business owner, what one thing do you do better than everyone else? Large or small, what pieces of your process, your personality or your products are different enough that there is opportunity to highlight, package, and own them as yours? How can you explain it using sepcific, unique words? (Unique not being one of them!)

Instead of saying we are faster and cheaperGeiko say "15 minutes will save you 15% or more on car insurance," a great example of using similar language, but in a differentiated way to be memorable. 


You can use new words, you can use the same words in a new way, or you can use made-up words to set yourself apart from your competitors. But when you use language that everyone else is using, no matter how much better you are it will be impossible for the world to see it. 


Read the copy on your competitors’ websites. Is your copy interchangeable with theirs? If it wouldn't feel out of place on your competitors' website then you aren't pushing yourself far enough to show your true colors. Try explaining and defining the generic words that you use, so instead of saying that you are 'innovative,' explain what you mean by the word "innovative."



Most companies understand that to be successful, a brand needs to stand for something. And we understand that you really do mean it when you say that your company stands for “integrity,” “customer service,” “innovative solutions,” etc… But unfortunately, you’re not the only “honest,” “hardworking” business out there. Those declarations lose meaning when your competitors, especially more established ones, also say they are honest and hardworking. When you all say the same thing, the big guys will always win.




So how do you find something to stand for that is bold, different, badass? There’s a simple way to find out how you are different, and if not, how you can be.  

Ask yourself "what do you stand against?" 

What pisses you off about your industry? If you stand for something bold, you also stand against something real. For example, no company offers "Bad Customer Service," so offering "Good Customer Service" is not very bold, exciting, or even believable. 



Mini Cooper is against "Normal", because in their words, “Normal can never be amazing”. In-N-Out Burger uses local produce and ingredients so they are against rapid growth and franchising. Chick-Fil-A's owner is a devout southern baptist whose beliefs have strongly influenced the company culture in that they are not open on Sundays, and recently even made public statements in opposition to same-sex marriage. And most people are aware of Ben & Jerry's liberal activism: for example their release of the flavor Hubby Hubby in support of Gay Marriage. 

What offends one person inspires and excites another in every case.


While we all might not agree with what these examples stand against, rest assure these brands are all loved by their loyal customers in a way that Toyota, Burger King, & Breyer’s are not. 

And they can charge a premium price because of it, which is part of Worstofall Design's definition of a badass brand. 

On the other hand, though Toyota et. al. are huge, successful companies, they are forced to compete on price and market share.

A brand that actually stands for something different develops devout followers that will pay more for their product, meaning these brands do not have to compete on price. This equates to higher profit margins, which means as the business grows, the profits grow even more than their price-competitive counterparts.

Those are the kind of badass businesses we admire!

Investing in and building on a bold brand message now will garner a loyal following that will shout your brand from the rooftops as you grow! This translates into greater and greater profits in the future. So think about what you stand against, and use that to help find that badass value you stand for. Without a contrary opinion to your stand, you can be pretty sure that big bold statement you’ve been making probably isn’t exciting enough to get your customers moving.

Part III:


You've heard it before: you've got to narrow your target market to be successful. But after encountering business owners time and again who will sell to anyone who will buy, it seems clear many people aren't buying it. Here are 3 short explanations about why narrowing your focus will increase sales, and why being for everyone can be the number one reason your business isn't growing.



If your target market is “anyone with the money to pay” you are doing yourself a disservice. When you hire someone to redecorate your new three bedroom condo, would you prefer to work with someone who “works with all budgets, from small studios to large condos to retail stores and office space” or would you prefer to work with someone who specializes in decorating high-end Manhattan real estate? You might even be willing to pay a premium to work with a specialist. (And even if you're not there are plenty of people who are. Plus when people pay you a premium you don't need nearly as many of them to make the same, or more money!)


Specialize now, and your reputation will grow around you. As you become known for your specialty while your business simultaneously grows, your competitive advantage will only be strengthened as you win client after client, strengthening your reputation and increasing the number of happy clients talking about you in that niche. Your speciality continuously feeds your business more strength and power, a power boost your generalist competitors will never feel. 

Though you might feel, especially at first, like you’re leaving money on the table when you turn down jobs that you could certainly execute, the value you will be creating in your business will pay you back in spades.  


Just because you are for a specific group, don’t think you are limited to that group. We’ve found that declaring a niche doesn’t discourage people from asking you if you would do work for clients outside of that niche. Why? Because they like what you have to sell, and they see you more as an expert over your generalist competitors.  Nasty Gal is a great example of a online fashion company that plays to a very specific kind of customer, but many of their customers don’t fall into that category. Their brand is rocker and rebellious targeting a certain kind of female. But that just means they are the go-to for super edgy, rebel style, and even the teachers pet will buy from them when looking for something in that category. They have become the go-to for their style, and that’s powerful across all target markets.
Litmus test
What kind of clients do you say “no” to? Do you target clients that other competitors in your space don’t? Do you say no to clients your comeptitors do work with?


Unless you’re Apple, Coke, or Walmart, you don’t have the resources to just beeverywhere, which is how these huge successful companies stay successful.

The rest of us are fighting for a piece of the pie against many other smaller brands. Building a Badass Brand is essential to being successful in the long run because it guarantees you will be known, liked, loved by customers, which will keep them coming back for more, and bringing their friends to boot.


Badass brands are memorable. They stand for something specific or, even better, stand against something that people might even like. They might be very narrow in their target audience, be it the age group, gender, location, size of company, or better yet, a mix of a few. They are willing to sacrifice in the name of their brand. They are authentic. They are valuable. And because they are so well defined, they have little or no competition. 

You can't and shouldn't use all the techniques in this series for your business. Instead, see which ones are most applicable, and then commit! Committing is the hardest part for most because it seems to require sacrifice, but it's truly the strongest way to set your business apart and build a company with unlimited potential.