In Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, Jim Collins describes a way of thinking about one’s business called the Hedgehog Concept. “The key is to understand what your organization can be the best in the world at, and equally important what it cannot be the best at–not what it ‘wants’ to be the best at. The Hedgehog Concept is not a goal, strategy, or intention; it is an understanding.” Once a business has that understanding, Collins explains, those within that business then can know how best to communicate what their business does do (and doesn’t do) both within and without.
With brand building, having that same level of understanding is essential. Otherwise, we business owners may put a whole bunch of time, effort, and money into marketing strategies that don’t produce the results we want.
In a recent post, Bernadette Jiwa notes a significant problem that can arise when we business owners market without knowing our business first: “We invest a lot of time and resources in becoming known without clarifying what we want to be known for.”
When that happens, our customers don’t know what we should be known for either.
Just as knowing your “youness” can help you connect with those you serve, knowing your business can help you convey what your business actually is to both potential and current customers. Jiwa asks five very revealing questions that start with describing your business in three words and end with determining how to convey your business’s story if your story isn’t currently being told.
The goal is to know your business well enough so that customers will, too. “If we want to have a say in how our brand is perceived,” Jiwa notes, “then we need to be intentional about creating that perception.” If we aren’t, we risk something worse than not conveying what we do clearly. “As the saying goes,” Jiwa states, “if you don’t tell your story someone else will.”
When it comes to building a brand, that is the last thing we business owners should want.