"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.