Brand or Die!

A Small Business Survival Guide

Are you in the business of Big Ideas?

  • Posted: 7:37 AM
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  • Author: Mikal J. Caldwell

Victor Hugo said that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. As an entrepreneur you should embrace that same philosophy with your business. Every business should have what I call a Big Idea. It is one of the most powerful business development tools you have, and its proper use can (and will) spark growth and build brand loyalty with your company.

A Big Idea is the essence of why your company exists in the market. It's bigger than the product or service you sell. Your Big Idea is the real reason why your customers buy from you and not someone else. It often has less to do with the tangibles of how your product or service works, and more to do with how people feel as a result of doing business with you. If you haven't really thought about what your Big Idea is, you should definitely do it now, because that is one of the most important elements of your brand and one of the keys to true brand penetration.

Customers don’t buy products, they buy ideas. Think about it: Do you buy a Mercedes just for transportation? Or do you buy it because of the air of luxury it represents and what that means to you? If you had your heart set on a Mercedes and another car had the same specifications and capabilities, you’d still most likely choose the Mercedes. That’s the power of a Big Idea. It not only creates demand, it creates brand loyalty.

Apple is a great example of how to use a Big Idea to create a demand for your product and claim market share. Although Microsoft had a near-monopoly on computer operating systems, Apple decided to compete on a totally different playing field. They launched the iPod not as a product, but as the symbol of an idea that said: "We are the definition of cool." They were completely brilliant in their launch of it and immediately the idea caught on. Not fully realizing the mortal danger they were in, Microsoft was slow to respond, and by the time they had a similar product, they had already lost the idea war. iPods were cool. Everything else was not.

From there Apple used the power of that idea to breathe new life into the Mac Computer brand. Macbooks became synonymous with cool, just as the iPod was. You can see that same Big Idea still being used in their "I'm a Mac. I'm a PC" ad campaign. Apple's success wasn't truly built on the strength of their product (although quality is still vital), but on the power of their Big Idea. And for the record, they launched the iPod in a recession!

You might not be as big as Apple, but your Big Idea is, and you can use it the same way that Apple did to grow your business. Understand your Big Idea well enough to articulate it simply and clearly, and then begin spreading that Big Idea in your marketing. If you have employees, create a communication and coaching program that ensures each of them know and exemplify your Big Idea. Using every touch point you have, spread the gospel of your Big Idea, and watch how many of your customers become true believers.

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