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“One Thing.” The best strategic advice a brand could ever get.

By Ray Baird

“What’s the biggest challenge to creating a successful B2B brand?” I am often asked this question, and without a doubt it’s the decision of what not to be— let me explain.

So often, companies want to try and be everything to their customers. Does this sound familiar? Many times when we are working with a client to find their sustainable point of differentiation they will say that it’s many things and not just one; “We’re innovative but have great service at a value price.” Does this sound familiar?  Therein lies the challenge. Yes, companies may have differentiation at many different levels, but customers and consumers think differently than businesses do.

Your customer’s brain is wired to retain information that is new and different or important to decisions that they are making—everything else gets lost in the sea of sameness. And most importantly, buyers immediately categorize brands based upon their first impression, which means you better be prepared to understand what you can own in the marketplace and what’s most relevant. And that’s where most companies struggle.

So often, corporations don’t spend enough time to really understand what makes them different in the minds of their buyers. They  resort to value propositions that are confusing, uninteresting, and lacking in singularity for maximum intention—“One Thing.” Trying to build a brand on everything will leave you with nothing.

So if you are in the process of developing a brand position, here are two critical things to consider:

1. Get the brand strategy right.

If the brand strategy and value proposition has not been created or agreed upon, how can you create a successful brand? Finding the “One Thing” is really a strategic exercise more than anything else. It cannot just be delegated to the marketing department. It needs to be developed with the brain trust of your organization. Only then can the brand team go to work on developing a long lasting, successful brand and delivery strategy.

2. Be the Brand voice of reason. Take the test.

As you begin the brand development process consider using these three elements to make sure you are  building a lasting brand strategy.

a. Is it relevant? If what you are saying does not resonate with your buyer, go back to the drawing board.  Ask yourself the question, “Will they care?”  Remember , if your customer is not ecstatic over the promise or doesn’t get it, you will be building a promise on a false foundation. And remember, focus on “One Thing.”

b. Is it believable? If you can’t come up with strong reasons to believe, you need to start over. In most cases your employees can tell you immediately if  your value proposition will fly. The last thing you want to do is announce a new positioning that people cannot believe. Do yourself a favor, always test your future brand promise with both employees and customers. If it’s not resonating with them and if it’s not credible, you’re in for a rough ride. And remember, focus on “One Thing.”

c. Is it defendable? You need to step back and look at your ecosystem and determine if your new position is defendable. So often, companies build brand promises that are short lived because they did not do the proper homework to understand the competitive environment and market dynamics. The last thing you want is to introduce a brand position that someone can knock down or will become irrelevant in short order. And remember, focus on “One Thing.”

If you start with a clear strategy that’s agreed upon by your executive team and use this criteria to develop brand, you’ll be in great shape to create a long lasting successful brand. And remember, focus on “One thing.” If you try to be known for many things, you‘ll be remembered for nothing. But that’s just my opinion, what’s yours?