Doing That Voodoo That
You Do So Well
Years ago, when I was a creative hotshot
at a ridiculously large and unbelievably stupid advertising agency, I
used to teach a class on advertising. It was called Rob Frankel's Advertising
Boot Camp, and it was, essentially, the Marine Corps of advertising classes.
The first session of Advertising Boot
Camp always started with the same question: "What's your ultimate
career goal?" And we'd go around the room with 20-something-year-old
kids telling me how they wanted
to be the creative director of this advertising agency or an art director
They were, of course, all wrong.
"Your ultimate goal," I would
tell them in my own gentle-but-condescending way, "is for some blue-suited
bigwig in some far away corporate ivory tower to be yelling at his coven
of yes men, 'I don't care if he's 10 times as expensive! Get me <Your
Name Here>! He's the only one who can do the job!'"
That's the Ultimate Goal, chief. And you
don't do that by being better than the next guy. You do that by being
the only one capable of doing it.
All of which brings us to the concept
of branding. Branding is a whole lot more than a simple cocktail party
buzzword. It's a really, really important factor in any business's success,
but even more so on the Web, where visitor loyalty disintegrates with
one click of a mouse.
The first step to creating a killer brand
is to realize that sooner or later, any product or service is going to
spawn competition. And the minute you've got competition, you've got,
as Ricky Ricardo so wisely intoned, "a lotta 'splainin' to do."
Because in addition to showing what you do, you now have to convince that
viewer with his nanosecond attention span why he should click on your
hyperlink rather than Crazy Harold's, your cut rate competitor's.
Look, anyone can sell product. But only
you can sell you. And if people trust you, they're more likely to buy
your next product from you, too.
Man, I see tons of businesses paint themselves
into corners by betting the farm on one trick ponies. It's usually some
genius accountant or brain-damaged lawyer's idea: "Hey guys, let's
name the whole company after our product!"
Oops. Did someone say Wordperfect?
Unless your business plan calls for selling
the company 30 seconds after funding, you're in this for the long haul.
Which means you have to plan for competition and seed your brand early-like
To find out if a brand really is working,
ask yourself this: "Why am I choosing this product over the other?"
If you're buying a car, and safety is your primary concern, you already
know the brand that hits your brain first. When it comes to your site,
that same branding thing should happen.
That's what brings them in. That's what
brings them back.
Now, before you line up for the next Peter
Drucker seminar, let me save you some dough by telling you that branding
isn't as easy as it looks. In fact, some of the biggest names you know
have some of the lamest branding growing out of their necks, sapping their
strengths like marketing melanomas.
Fess up: The reason you buy Microsoft
stuff isn't because the company stands for anything. It's because everyone
else uses it-at least for now.
And if that doesn't convince you, try
this: if Windows, Mac, Unix, BeOS were equal in market share and third-party
support, which one would you choose?
Uh-huh. That's what I thought.