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The Narrower the Focus, the Stronger the Brand

By Ryan Rieches

The essence of brand strategy is sacrifice. The best brands are known for one thing and doing that one thing really well. The challenge for most organizations is being willing to commit to that one thing. Most tend to want to take a ‘safer’ approach and cast a broader net when the reality is that this broader approach is actually much riskier. When an organization has a clear focus, the objectives are clear and the team can get aligned around this one core direction to become the best at what they do. Another benefit of this strategy is that your core audience can relate to this focus and clearly place you in their consideration set — making your brand that much more memorable.

When we consult with clients on their brand strategy, we evaluate the company from the inside out. We begin by understanding all the strengths and benefits that the company is promoting. We overlay those positive attributes with the perceptions of their target market to see how congruent the two views are. What we often find is that when a company chooses to be broad based in their messaging, the audience is less clear on what their value truly is. But when a company chooses to stand for one thing and remain focused, their value proposition is clearly understood and the target audience who finds this relevant is willing to pay a premium for it.

As companies grow, their capabilities often expand and their offerings become broader. While it is tempting to seek short-term opportunities, that path typically results in getting off track and after several years the company finds itself not knowing who they really are or what they truly stand for anymore.

Saying no is often much harder than saying yes. It takes discipline to say no. This topic reminds me of an article I recently read where Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine, asked some prominent executives the secret to their success. Here are some of those words to live by:

“For every 100 great opportunities that are brought to me, I say no 99 times.” – Warren Buffett
“I’m just as proud of the things we don’t do as I am of what we do.” – Steve Jobs

Jobs explained that when he was running Pixar, he learned the power of working on just one big thing at a time. Author Jim Collins has a similar point of view on being focused. His viewpoint is, if you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.

The ability to focus is inherent in every great leader and in every great business. Focus is at the core of any great business and brand strategy and they must be fully aligned. Making the sacrifices necessary to stand for one great thing, allows an organization’s brand to be well understood and embraced and this ultimately leads to passionate fans who will share their positive experience with others.