Do You Know What Your Brand’s “Only-ness” Is?

October 11, 2017

When it comes to turning your business idea into a marketable service or product, many entrepreneurs struggle with where to begin.   Taking your “big idea” from concept to market is a monumental endeavor. Most of us expect to make a significant investment of time and money but we aren’t always prepared for the actual amount of sweat equity it takes to turn our vision into reality.

From my 30+ years of experience, assisting in the process of building brands, generating a list of everything your “big idea” encompasses is key to establishing its mission (its HOW), positioning (its WHY) and differentiators (its WHAT). Those three core things need to be determined upfront before the rest of your brand is built.

Mission, positioning and differentiators are all things I speak around and present about on stage routinely. You must have these foundational components decided on before you begin to build out all the other pieces and parts of your brand. Without that ground floor, your brand ends up a tenuous house of cards. Believe me I know, because much of what I do for my clients is what I call rework. That occurs when clients call me when their business is floundering because they never landed on their HOW, WHY and WHAT.

Everyone knows they need a name, a logo, a price point, a business plan and a budget but it is most important to achieve clarity around how you will explain to a consumer, why YOUR brand and what is it in for THEM? Repeatedly this process of figuring out one’s “HOW, WHY and WHAT” is what trips up my clients (both corporate and entrepreneurs).

To ensure you are launching your “big idea” thoroughly, and mapping out how to communicate your HOW, WHY and WHAT effectively, you have to do what I call the “heady” work. I do a 2 Day Intensive Workshop at least once a month where my clients spend two full days with my team by their side, analyzing, validating, researching, and creating a kick ass, one-of-kind “only-ness”. Say what? Yes, “only-ness”. What ONLY can you (or your product/service) offer that is unlike any other in your industry circles.

“Only-ness” is not a new buzzword. It has been around for years, even one of my brand mentors, author and branding expert Marty Neumeier uses it (see my interview with him here).

Getting to the heart of your “only-ness” requires you to dig deep to figure out what your (or your product/service) does that a person could not find anywhere else! Most individuals have difficulty assessing what their “only-ness” is. I have finely tuned my process to ask questions (often pointed, sometimes laughable, and more than likely revelatory) that eventually lead people down the path to a place where their eyes light up and the fog lifts as their a-ha moment unfolds. Relief is tangible as we capture and confirm WHY they are unique in whatever industry or space they associate with and decide the HOW and WHAT that will ensure their messaging resonates.

I found by doing these 2 Day Intensives that most people are great at knowing and describing themselves in generalities but they struggle with specificity. You can be bold and innovative but if you can’t articulate why you are different from all the others that say that they are bold and innovative, then those traits are essentially worthless. See what I mean?

If we are talking about crafting a personal brand, you need to hone in on “what you are known for” and “how others would describe you when you aren’t in the room”.   Friends and colleagues are best to turn to when you need these insights as they have the perspective to be able to see the difference in the world when you are present and when you are not. They have the ability to notice what causes you to light up or what you care about. They can see you, for yourself, and thus help YOU see YOU, even more clearly. Your personal brand should be all about YOU as an individual offering a unique perspective that no one else can claim. Period.

If we define “only-ness” as it pertains to bringing a product or service to market, then visualize it as the manner in which you bring your “big idea” to life. Your brand’s “only-ness” must be strong and truly unique in a sea of the same, and you must find the means to make it resonate, whatever its ultimate goal is, to make change or a difference, mollify a pain point, provide inspiration, offer a prescription for success…the objectives are endless.

So what’s your brand’s “only-ness”, do you know? If you do, embrace it wholeheartedly and be sure you are connecting the dots for your network or customers by shouting it to the hilltops. If you don’t, you absolutely need to. Your “only-ness” is essential to your brand’s long-term success, so make it a priority, pronto, to spend time doing due diligence figuring it out, then be sure that your brand oozes it.