Biz Tips: How Winning Brands Happen

Biz Tips: How Winning Brands Happen


How Winning Brands Happen

This is my ‘writer’ pose

I’ve worked on hundreds of branding projects. That’s no exaggeration. Over the last 15-years, I’ve helped name, brand, or rebrand everything from medical devices to the Wendy’s Kids’ Meal program.

Early in my career, I focused on flashy work that produced awards. And we won a lot of awards. It was fun to get praise from other people in the industry and feel like a big deal. I wanted the client to be successful, but I wasn’t obsessed with what was best for their business. I was selfishly worried about awards and recognition. As I got older, my focus shifted from winning awards to consistently delivering results. This shift awakened a burning question in me.

What separated my thriving clients from the ones who failed?

After some digging, I found a few indicators of success in all of the winners.

They’re Intentionally Different

The first attribute I found across all the winners is a clear point of differentiation. They do something faster, better, or in a completely new way from everyone else in their industry.

Some people call this your area of innovation, and other people call it your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). I simply call it your differentiator.

Every business must have a single differentiator. I don’t care if you sell toilet paper, you need a reason why your poop paper is different.

You should have one clear benefit to the customer that you point to as your differentiator. Trying to sell on five differentiators is a losing proposition. Nobody is the best at 5 things. Pick what you’re going to hang your hat on and be the best.

Even the most mundane business in the world can find a way to differentiate.

They Focus On The Right People, Not All People

Winning brands don’t try and please everyone. Nike used Colin Kaepernick knowing that it would infuriate a lot of people. They were ok with angering a lot of people to appeal to the right people. Taking chances and speaking to the right people is how you turn customers into raving fans.

You aren’t Nike. I understand that taking a stand is much scarier for a small business. It’s also more important. If you try and please everybody, you please nobody. Identify who you want as customers and speak to them.

Stand up and say who you’re for, and who you’re not for as well. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice the wrong customers to appeal to the right ones. The more focused your niche, the more appealing you are to the right people.

All of my successful clients had a clear picture of their customer. From Tractor Supply Company to single location restaurants, I can see a definitive pattern that translates to loyal customers.

They Have A Clear Message

All of the winners made it easy for customers. They said what they do, who they do it for, and what makes them different without muddying the waters and complicating things.

Simple always wins. Go through all of your communication as though you were a prospect being exposed to your company for the first time. Is what you do clear? Would I understand if you’re right for me? Is there a clear point of differentiation weaved throughout your story?

Confused customers don’t buy. Clarify your message. Sell more.

They’re Relentlessly Consistent

The prettiest logo in the world doesn’t guarantee anything. Even the most visually unattractive brand can have success if they consistently execute on a brand promise.

I consider this the single biggest indicator of success. Think of every great brand in the world. What is the one thing they all have in common?


People crave consistent experiences. This desire translates across every industry.

The winners I’ve worked with have put employees, systems, and processes in place to ensure that they deliver a consistent experience for every customer. This consistency translates into repeat customers, referrals, and raving fans.

Success Isn’t Luck

Build a quality product or service. Clearly communicate your differentiator to the right people. Win the game.

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