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October 16, 2015
What Is Your Brand’s 'One Thing'?
If you had to pick one thing for your brand to be known for, what would it be? You can’t say quality, customer service, or value. Those terms don’t mean anything to the consumer, because those are the basic expectations of any business. However, discovering this one thing is imperative if you want to differentiate yourself from the competition — especially if your brand is in a commoditized industry.

At Esparza, we preach this to our clients day in and day out. With the onslaught of marketing communications today, you only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your target audience. This is why it’s so crucial for brands to find the most compelling aspect of their product or service and focus on that in their advertising messages. There may be other important things about their brand to promote, but those details can be poured into other communication vehicles — websites, collateral materials, long-form videos, conversations with personnel, etc.

If you think about the long-standing top brands of the world, you’ll quickly discern that their advertising efforts are honed in on one main idea. Some examples include:
  • Nike = Motivation
  • Google = Easy Access
  • Disney = Magical Family Entertainment
  • Coca-Cola = Happiness
  • FedEx = Fast Reliable Delivery
So how do you go about finding this one thing for your brand? Using my company (an advertising agency in a highly commoditized industry) as an example, I’ll explain how we went about this discovery process for ourselves. At the risk of unveiling the outcome of the process too soon, it will likely help for you to know that the sole positioning statement for Esparza is: WHY JUST RUN AN AD, WHEN YOU CAN MAKE A SCENE?

Coming to this single thought for our agency wasn’t easy, but the process was methodical and we know it worked because it (A) truly represents our core philosophy; (B) differentiates us from the competition; (C) is easy to understand; and (D) resonates well with clients and prospects.

Over roughly a 60-day period, we systematically followed the five steps listed below to get to our “one thing.” Any brand — be it a B2C or B2B product or service — can follow this process and likely land on a single compelling concept that best represents them, is simple yet unique, and rings true with customers.

Step 1: Take Note of Your Best Offerings. Look at the products and/or services that perform the best for you and jot down the specific reasons why you think they are your top sellers.

Step 2: Interview Your Employees. Ask the people that work for and with you why your brand is better and different from your competition and why they think your best customers keep coming back.

Step 3: Ask Your Top Customers. Talk to your most loyal customers to find out why they love you and why they continue to do business with you.

Step 4: Review Your Competition. Take a close look at how the members of your peer brand group position themselves. Try to determine if they have a “one thing” and what it is.

Step 5: Go with Your Gut. After you sort through and review all of the data you’ve collected via Steps 1 through 4, you’ll see a few central themes arise. Put these few themes down on paper and pick the one that you believe feels most like your brand.

Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Be you. Be different. Be bold.

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Emily K. Howarda marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.
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