The world’s most powerful branding begins at one, magical intersection.

#The Bam Thinks: No.7 It takes place at the intersection of what the consumer most critically desires, and what the brand most uniquely delivers. If we can figure out, and line up these two things, then success explodes outward from there.

Celebrated brands understand this. Athletes of all kinds critically desire to achieve their absolute highest performance. Nike uniquely delivers products, services and encouragement to help them reach peak performance. Teenage boys critically desire to hook up with girls. Lynx uniquely delivers products, pheromones, and confidence to help boys score. The whole world critically desires to express their creativity. Apple uniquely delivers products, technology and inspiration to unleash that creativity.

This may sound easy, but like everything in life, it takes massive, torturous amounts of work, and tenacious stamina to make it look easy. Often times, we feel confident about what the consumer desires, but we lack the unique offering that specifically nails that desire. Other times, we have a very unique brand offering, but it just doesn’t fulfill the critical consumer desire. In either case, we fail. Because one or the other is no good. You need both.

What the consumer most dramatically desires is all about insight. From my experience, the deepest insights are the ones people won’t articulate out loud. Most human beings feel uncomfortable in a research setting, so it makes them guarded; hesitant to divulge what they truly believe. So you must listen, read between the lines, and sum up what they’re “really” saying.

Here’s an example. When I worked on the AARP account, we wanted to increase relevance among 50-65-year-olds. They do quite well with 65+. The problem: when the product arrives, 50-somethings scream with horror, and throw it into the garbage unopened. Quite the challenge. When we spoke to the target, they said things like “that’s for old people…I’m not old” It was all about age. After digging deeper, we realized the issue wasn’t just age. People understand they get older, and a lot of times they’re happy with some of the things age brings, wisdom, experience, etc. The real issue is, as they age, they feel that life offers them fewer possibilities. But no one wants to admit that out loud. What they critically desire is someone to come along and offer them new and wonderful possibilities.

What the brand most uniquely delivers must be authentically you and decisively single-minded. You must find the authentic appeal your brand possesses, then make that interesting to a lot more people. Take what people love (loyalists are a good place to start), and make it ripple out to thousands or millions more. That takes one part authentic brand truth, the actual benefit you supply, and another part copywriting, putting it into a nice tight, single-minded thought that is worded as uniquely as possible.

Picking back up on the AARP example, once we realized what they critically desired was possibilities, we looked at what the brand could offer. If we could become a source of endless possibility, we could slowly start to become relevant. So we crafted the words “An Ally for Real Possibility,” No one can uniquely deliver this promise better than AARP. It’s exactly why the brand exists, to be an advocate, to supply tons of useful information and possibilities for work, money, and community. The phrase also happens to be a new acronym for AARP, which makes it totally ownable to the brand.

We had our magical intersection of what the consumer most critically desired, and what the brand most uniquely delivered. Let the branding begin.


Forwarding someone else’s thinking is not thinking

Many people in business have the misconception that forwarding someone else’s smart thinking, somehow makes them look smart, or sharing someone else’s funny, somehow makes them funny, That’s not how it works. Yet, they still show you a funny, cool youtube video, as if they had anything to do with it simply because they found it. Why? The answer is always the same: it’s easier. Finding and forwarding is easier than thinking and creating. That’s hard. As soon as it gets hard, 90% of people drop off.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to read and absorb as much as you can, and its okay to pass on something you find interesting or smart or funny, if you do it occasionally, judiciously. But let’s be clear, it’s not a substitute for your own originality.

Reblogging, reposting, share buttons have all made it way too easy to click and forward. They’ve created a click-crazy group of forwarding freaks who blast out everything they see to everyone they know. My question would be, are they really trying to help the recipient, or is it more of a personal posturing, a humblebrag of sorts, that softly proclaims, “I’m so up on all this stuff, let me help you get there, too?” It’s like a bartender who hits you with every joke he’s ever heard someone else say in the bar. Enough already.

If it weren’t so easy, people wouldn’t do it. In the not-too-distant past, if you wanted to share something, you had to cut it out, put it in your bag, bring it somewhere, and show it to someone. Again, too hard for most people. However, that little bit of effort causes people to pause and think if what they’re sharing is really worth it to the recipient. Probably not. It’s more likely the sender desperately wants to share something, anything.

My point here: no one ever got famous singing covers. If you want to be funny, do or say something funny, don’t recite a George Carlin routine. That makes him funny, not you. If you want to look smart, do or say something smart, don’t repeat a Warren Buffett quote. That makes him look smart, not you. So have your own original thoughts, and don’t forward this to anyone.