You've heard that Rudolph the reindeer had a shiny nose.
You've heard of Coke's secret formula.
You've heard that a Volvo is a safe car.
So which of the above statements are true?
And which are false?
And how can you tell?
What you can tell for sure, is the sense of uniqueness
Rudolph has a shiny nose. Blitzen doesn't.
Coke has a secret formula. Pepsi doesn't.
Volvo is a safe car. So is a Lexus not quite as safe?
You don't know, do you? You don't know for a fact if a Lexus is safer than a Volvo.
What you do know is that Volvo has driven home the safety angle so many times, that when most people say ‘safe' and ‘car', you tend to say the brand name ‘Volvo.'
And Fidel Castro knew as much
If you were in Cuba in the year 1960, and you picked up the phone, you'd have heard a woman's voice shrieking: “Fatherland or Death!”
The first time you heard it, you'd be astonished. Even scared.
The seventy-fourth time, you'd actually expect to hear the shriek. And if you didn’t hear the shriek, you’d actually think the phone line had gone dead.
And the shriek was Fidel Castro’s idea.
What Fidel Castro understood, and understood well, was that if you hear something often enough, ‘that something’, would create a permanent branding in your brain.
Coke understood the very same concept
When John Pemberton ‘invented' Coke, there was little or no mention of the secret formula. Asa Candler, who bought the Coke formula from Pemberton, literally popularised the concept of the formula.
Because you see, Coke wasn't that thirst-quenching drink to start with.
Coke was advertised as a ‘brain tonic.' The advertising claimed that Coke could cure headaches. And exhaustion. And be used to calm down your nerves. And from those claims, sprouted the ‘secret formula.' The formula that is seemingly locked up in a vault in Atlanta. That unique formula that few on this planet have laid eyes on.
But we all know about the secret formula. How? Because Coke (and dozens of information sources perpetuate the same message time and time again)
Are you getting what makes your business unique?
You thought that uniqueness was a factor of what makes you different, right? And you’re right, but only partially so. Because imagine you ran a business like say a flower boutique on Queen Street. And let’s imagine you had a ‘secret formula’ that made the flowers last two weeks without wilting.
Would that make you unique?
Sure it would. But just you and a few others would know of that uniqueness. For uniqueness to really work well, you can’t simply create a point of difference. You’ve got to drive home the concept time, and time, and time again.
Your signage should say: Flowers That Last Two Weeks Without Wilting
Your business card should say: Flowers That Last Two Weeks Without Wilting
Your flowers should sit in the store window with a date on when they were last replaced. (Demonstrating that they have been there two weeks, yes without wilting)
Your networking message should emphasise on the anti-droop factor.
It’s only when everyone and everything start to say the same message over and over again—and demonstrate the uniqueness in many ways—that you actually create uniqueness. Until you create a synergy in your branding, your uniqueness isn’t worth a cent.
Synergy: Ah, that’s a nice word
Because most businesses totally goof up on the synergy. They create their form of uniqueness, but forget to synergise. And as you read in the ‘Flower Store’ example above—if you’re going after the ‘anti-droop’ factor, then find dozens of ways to demonstrate anti-droop.
It’s not much use simply having your uniqueness on your business card. Or paying lip service to your uniqueness at some event you’re speaking at. Or putting it up on your website.
Just tacking on your uniqueness to some marketing isn’t going to help you one itty bit. You need to drive home the uniqueness factor in different media, over different situations, and in as many ways as you possibly can.
You know Rudolph has a shiny nose because you’ve heard it squillions of times in the song. You’ve seen it on greeting cards. Every cartoon that ever involves Santa seems to include Rudolph’s headlight nose.’
And Rudolph doesn’t even exist
You can’t see him. Meet him. Touch him.
Yet you believe in his shiny nose.
It’s not enough to have a shiny nose business. Your uniqueness alone is not enough. Once you’ve created a sense of uniqueness for your business, don’t sit there and feel happy. Let the world know about what’s unique about you.
And yes, a few hundred, thousand times again.
Next Step: How to Commit Brand Suicide