Have you ever seen an advertisement for a jackfruit? Or sand? It doesn't make sense to advertise a commodity. If they are all the same, I'll just pick the cheapest one. Unless you have a monopoly, you will likely only see a financial benefit if you’ve built a brand - or at least registered a trademark — for your offering.
Ten years ago a navel orange was what you'd put in your kids lunchbox. But California farmer Bernie Evans changed all that. (The Wall Street Journal article here). A bad freeze devastated the state’s citrus harvest and he looked for a cold-hardy orange. He learned that one option, clementines, which at the time were imported from Spain, were selling well on the East Coast. He signed a deal with a nursery to multiply clementine trees and sell them to him exclusively. He then trademarked the name “Cuties®” and launched a $20 million national television and point-of-sale advertising campaign. You’ve probably had some on your kitchen counter recently.
Think carefully about the name you’ve chosen for your product, service or business. It is an important part of the story.
Did you take a moment this week to commemorate George Washington, or the leadership qualities of any chief executive important to you? Or did you buy a mattress or enjoy a long weekend of skiing? Were you just annoyed that you forgot the post office was closed? Did President's Day mean anything to you?
When we take time out to celebrate the significance of a shared event or the contributions of an individual, we are really talking about what is important to us collectively. I'm not advocating for or against the holiday, but it reminds me that a helpful question to ask about any communication to a specific audience is "What is this for?"
If the answer isn't "This helps build trust with my client or gets the attention of someone I'd like to work with," then you should rethink it. What you are doing might just be an artifact. It takes empathy to see what your customer really wants.
Also, happy Mardi Gras.
The same story told by different artists can radically change how an audience connects to it. The same is true of your marketing story. Your presentation is important. Last night the NFL paired a country music star, Eric Church, with an R&B singer, Jazmine Sullivan to perform the national anthem before the Super Bowl. It symbolized the need for unity in an ongoing charged time of racial discord for the nation - a smart move for the NFL.
When Jimi Hendrix played the "Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock it became a protest anthem about the Vietnam war. It reflected the pulse of the nation at that time. Very different from Whitney Houston's patriotic version at the 1991 Super Bowl.
How you present the material changes everything. Same content, different delivery. How are you communicating?
Often we ask people "Where are you from?" What we are really doing is looking for common ground, "Oh, I have a friend that's also from Buffalo!" Or we are seeking to understand her, "So you must be a Bills fan." Our origin stories communicate the experiences and values that shape our worldview.
That is also true of organizations. I saw this ice axe displayed on the wall at my REI sporting goods store. It is a symbol of company's roots which started as a co-op to buy mountaineering equipment in 1935. You can read that story on their website here.
Sharing your organization's origin story communicates something important to your customers. Tell that story with an intention to connect over shared values.
I have a variety of interests and enjoy sharing my reflections on them here.