Steve Jobs was the master presenter who helped to steer, promote, sustain and build the most valuable company on the planet.
He was an unusual mix of vision, passion, a restless pursuit of excellence and street smarts that spoke to each of us and who spoke like one of us.
Yet, there’s a problem that is all too common:
It’s why the majority of startups fail within the first year.
It’s why CEOs spend billions each year for training its staff.
It’s why truly understanding how to differentiate is not an option but a vital management and survival necessity and tool we must know.
Steve Jobs: How to Pitch
Steve Jobs had an ability to isolate and create what we wanted, often times before we knew what that exact need was.
The difference was he knew when to inquire.
And when to avoid certain rituals like focus groups much like Henry Ford who said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Like any good novel, movie or story of any sort, Steve Jobs knew you had to have a hero and an antagonist.
This was most brilliantly embodied in the “Hi, I’m a Mac… and I’m a PC” campaign which won numerous awards, legions of new customers and endless next-day water cooler conversations. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)
With your brand, your hero is:
- the vision
- the aspiration
- the purpose your audience can rally behind, or
- Simon Sinek’s “Why.”
The enemy can be:
- a competitor
- possibly a “compromise” we’ve had to deal with
- maybe some standard of beauty, intelligence or skill we’re supposed to match, or
- some “cliche promise” that nobody really lives up to.
It all becomes simple if you remember this:
the right answer unites us (with one another and with that brand).
The wrong answer divides us.
For Apple, it was liberation from an IBM world led by numbers and engineer-driven programs freeing each of us from the shackles of digital hell. In its place was a tool that spoke our language versus one making us learn how to speak (and think like) “computer code.”
Now, for a beauty product, it might be looking beautiful without Photoshop.
Or, for an athletic product, it might be eliminating excuses and living life to the fullest (rather than the burden of subscribing to someone else’s standards). Kind of like… “Just do it.”
Warby Parker did it offering an alternative to the monopoly of overpriced quality prescription glasses.
Harry’s has done it providing a much better (and affordable) shave versus the existing overpriced (and inferior) blades for shaving.
Note: Each new solution provides more value to the customer.
How to Sell More
Just to make this instantly practical, here are 3 actual examples of how this two-pronged approach works:
When I was approached by a chocolatier to help grow their brand, I knew the hero was their authenticity and the antagonist was the ambiguous “cosmetic” packaging so common amongst handmade chocolates.
A 300% increase in sales. In 30 days after the launch of the rebrand. No other changes were made: no new flavors, no change in personnel, no new promotions, no change in hours, and no new incentives. In other words, with this single rebrand, they tripled their sales immediately.
When I was approached by a young software company, we decided to rebrand them with the hero being the overworked network administrator (their target audience) and the antagonist being the “ordinary mediocre solutions” that frustrated these same administrators.
Doubling sales 4 years in a row resulting in them getting onto the INC 500. Per CEO Stu Sjouwerman, “David and I go a long way back. He helped me build an INC 500 company which I later sold. I was retired for 5 days and decided to start my fifth IT company: KnowBe4. David is an incredible resource for branding and marketing — he and I created the name and positioning for KnowBe4, and we are growing well over 100% per year. The man is worth his weight in gold.”
When I was approached by a Napa Valley startup to rebrand their packaging, the hero being anyone seeking an amazingly delicious indulgence and the unwavering curiosity driven by a single question, “How delicious can it be?”
The antagonist was the formal, British afternoon cookie that lacked any element of delight and surprise.
300% increase in sales in the first year. Another 300% increase in year two after the rebrand. In other words, 900% increase in 24 months.
The same has been done for a water for athletes which has garnered 100% sign-ups by athletes, a Midwest city which saw a 500% increase in tourism within 12 months and an online company that saw a 397% increase in 3 years of their defining who the hero was and who the antagonist was.
This was also done for NYC skin care legend Joanna Vargas who said, “The way David Brier worked with me and embraced my project, I see why he’s considered one of the best branding minds and talents in business today.”
The Two Questions Steve Jobs Would Ask (to Help Make Your Brand Even Better)
FACT: Your brand needs to define its own hero.
And you must clearly define the antagonist that your brand will help overcome (or obliterate).
Your questions to ask are two:
- Who (or what) are your brand’s heroes? They may be a person, an aspiration, a standard of excellence, etc. Define those and win, and
- Who are the antagonists that your brand will help overcome, be them people, values, compromises or lazy standards? These would be anything: a company, a product, a low standard of expectation, a compromise or even a type of person that embodies this opposition. Define those and win even more.
Remember: “If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.”
Photo credit: Stefan Holm / shutterstock.com