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Brand Bites by Bryce Simple Language: Naming Your Category, Know When to Brand. Introduction by Terry Gale, Story Director in interview with Bryce Winter, Creative Director. Discovered in conversations with members tonight:
- The Practical Life Balance Company
- The Virtual Business Services Company
Intention: Learn how to ‘earn the right’ in 3 seconds, then introduce what you do in less than 30 seconds, and create incredible leverage opportunities for conversations about your brand.Context: Part of a series on Building a vital corporate structure: the architecture of a breakthrough brand. (previous: Brains & Brands) (next: Foolproof Persuasion)
Naming Your Category: Learn how to use simple language to build a breakthrough brand, and introduce your topic in 3 seconds or less.
Today we’re going to look at step 1 in the breakthrough branding process and get clear about why it is so important—by relaying a humorous short story, and discuss what the steps involved in developing your category—the foundation of your breakthrough brand.
Before we do, let’s review the 3 steps involved in creating a breakthrough brand. Okay, the 3 steps involved in breakthrough branding are:
You must describe a clear, distinct category that you can excel in. If it can’t be said in 2 or 3 plain English words, it’s too much. Your category is your secret sauce.
You must describe brand differences in ways that are clear, cohesive and compelling. A distinct brand mark including color is key. Your concentrate is your prize-winning recipe.
You must get groups of people talking about you. If they’re not talking about you, you’re not a brand. Member groups are key. Your conversations are your fantastic parties.
Today, we’re going to focus on #1: Category.
It turns out tip of the tongue, or TOT is a pretty much universal human phenomena. There are at least three theories that try to explain what is going on in our heads when TOT occurs. Many psychologists have studied the problem. People have been surveyed and papers have been written. An interesting discovery: it seems that on average, young adults experience TOT at least once a week.
If you’ve been listening to this series for a while, it won’t come as a surprise that we’re going to look at this now from the branding perspective!
From a branding point of view we don’t think of brand names first—we remember categories.
There’s a short story by the Russian writer Anton Chekov that demonstrates this point very neatly.
It’s called A Horsey Name; following is a summary: (to listen to the full audio version including detailed explanation of how this affects YOUR BRAND, click the link at top of this article)It seems a certain MAJOR BULDEEFF was suffering from toothache. He had rinsed his mouth with vodka and cognac; applied tobacco ashes, opium, turpentine, and kerosene to the aching tooth; rubbed his cheek with iodine, and put cotton wool soaked with alcohol into his ears, but all these remedies had either failed to relieve him or else had made him sick. The dentist was sent for. He picked at his tooth and prescribed quinine, but this did not help the major. Every one in the house, his wife, his children, the servants, suggested some remedy. Among others his steward, Ivan came to him, and advised him to try a conjuror.
“Sir,” said he, “ten years ago an taxman lived in this county whose name was Jacob. He was a first-class conjuror for the toothache. He used simply to turn toward the window and spit, and the pain would go in a minute. That was his gift.”“Where is he now?” “After he was dismissed from the revenue service, he went to live in Saratoff with his mother-in-law. He makes his living off nothing but teeth now. If any one has a toothache, he sends for him to cure it. The Saratoff people have him come to their houses, but he cures people in other cities by telegraph. Send him a telegram, sir, say: ‘I have a toothache. I want you to cure me.’ You can send him his fee by mail.” “Stuff and nonsense! Humbug!” “Just try it, sir! He is fond of vodka, it is true, and is living with some German woman instead of his wife, and he uses terrible language, but he is a remarkable wonder worker.” “Very well, then,” Buldeeff consented. “I would willingly send a telegram to the devil, let alone to an taxman. Ouch! I can’t stand this! Come, where does your conjuror live? What is his name?” The major sat down at his desk, and took up a pen. “He is known to every dog in Saratoff,” said the steward. “Just address the telegram to Mr. Jacob– Jacob–“ “Well?” “Jacob–Jacob–what? I can’t remember his surname. Jacob–darn it, what is his surname? I thought of it as I was coming along. Wait a minute!” Ivan raised his eyes to the ceiling, and moved his lips. The major waited impatiently for him to remember the name. “Well then, what is it? Think harder.” “Just a minute! Jacob–Jacob–I can’t remember it! It’s a common name too, something to do with a horse. Is it Mayres? No it isn’t Mayres– Wait a bit, is it Colt? No, it isn’t Colt. I know perfectly well it’s a horsey name, but it has absolutely gone out of my head!” “It isn’t Filley?” “No, no–wait a jiffy. Maresfield, Maresden– Farrier–Harrier–“ ” Is it Foley?” “No, no, it isn’t Foley. Just a second–Horseman– Horsey–Hackney. No, it isn’t any of those.” “Then how am I to send that telegram? Think a little harder!” “One moment! Carter–Coltsford–Shafter—“ “Why on earth did you come pestering me with your advice, if you couldn’t remember the man’s name?” stormed the major. “Get out of here!” Ivan went slowly out, and the major clutched his cheek, and went rushing through the house. “Ouch! Oh Lord!” he howled. “Oh, mother! Ouch! I’m as blind as a bat!” The steward went into the garden, and, raising his eyes to heaven, tried to remember the taxman’s name. Every one in the house began madly to invent names. Horses of every possible age, breed, and sex were considered; their names, hoofs, and harness were all thought of. People were frantically walking up and down in the house, garden, servants’ quarters, and kitchen, all scratching their heads, and searching for the right name. Suddenly the steward was sent for again. “Is it Herder?” they asked him. “Hocker? Hyde? Groome?” “No, no, no,” answered Ivan, and, casting up his eyes, he went on thinking aloud. “Steed–Charger–Horsely–Harness–” “Papa!” cried a voice from the nursery. “Tracey! Bitter!” The whole farm was now in an uproar. The impatient, agonised major promised five roubles to any one who would think of the right name, and a perfect mob began to follow Ivan Evceitch about. “Bayley!” They cried to him. “Trotter! Hackett!” Evening came at last, and still the name had not been found. The household went to bed without sending the telegram. Next morning the major sent for the dentist again. “I’ll have it out!” he cried. “I can’t stand this any longer!” The dentist came and pulled out the aching tooth. The pain at once subsided, and the major grew quieter. Having done his work and received his fee, the dentist climbed into his gig, and drove away. In the field outside the front gate he met Ivan. The steward was standing by the roadside plunged in thought, with his eyes fixed on the ground at his feet. Judging from the deep wrinkles that furrowed his brow, he was painfully racking his brains over something, and was muttering to himself: “Dunn–Sadler–Buckle–Coachman–“ “Hello, Ivan!” cried the doctor driving up. “Won’t you sell me a load of hay? I have been buying mine in town lately, but it’s no good.” Without answering a word Ivan threw up his arms, and rushed toward the house as if a mad dog were after him. “I’ve thought of the name, sir!” he shrieked with delight, bursting into the major’s study. “I’ve thought of it, thanks to the doctor. Hayes! Hayes is the taxman’s name! Hayes, your Honour! Send a telegram to Hayes!”
What does the Horsey Name story prove to us? Very simply put; we can remember all about a thing before we remember what it is called! (What does that mean to your brand).
Consider all the things that Ivan remembers about What does Ivan remember about the conjuror:
- he remembers he’s a former taxman
- he knows who he lives with, what he likes to drink and how he curses
- he knows his reputation and methods
- he knows where he lives
- he just can’t remember his name!
- (quick question, btw, do you think if Ivan had the internet he could have found the conjurer’s name with all the information he DID remember?)
The foundation of every breakthrough brand is it’s category.
What is category?
Your category is your secret sauce. It’s what people will remember—even if they don’t remember you, your brand name or your name.
You must describe a clear, distinct category that you can excel in.
If it can’t be said in 2 or 3 plain English words, it’s too much.
Great book recommendation: Buy Origin of Brands on Amazon Now!
Here are some straightforward examples from The Origin of Brands by Al & Laura Ries:
The wonderful bottom line is this—find a way to describe what you do in 2 or 3 plain simple words and you can create a breakthrough brand.
It’s important to remember these words must describe something you can excel in. Preferably something you feel you can be a global—or at least regional leader in.
For years the MarkBrand Group struggled as a branding company.
Today as a breakthrough branding company we are growing rapidly as we develop new members and client relationships everyday. The difference? Category.
Developing your category is the first and most critical key to establishing a breakthrough brand effect for your brand.
It’s also the most important step in having a great elevator pitch.
Imagine this, you’ve just met a potentially important business contact and he asks you what you do. You have 30 seconds:
What do you do?
People want to know what you are up in simple, easy to understand language. They’re not generally interested in your background, interests, or hobbies, until or unless they see a ‘fit’.
Here’s a simple solution: Give them the fit with your category first.
Then move to steps 2 & 3 of the breakthrough branding process—describing your creative concentrate (your recipe for success) and your conversations (who’s talking about you/what they’re saying) and you’re done!
Nowadays, when people ask me what I do, answering is easy!
Even if I have only 3 seconds, I can still name my category. With 30 seconds, I can tell them my whole story with room to spare.
Check out more about Breakthrough Branding at MarkBrandGroup