“A smart person will give you smart answers, but a wise person will ask you smart questions.” — seen on the Web
In business and in life, the one who asks the smarter question wins.
Whether you’re assessing a product pitch on Shark Tank, reviewing an investment opportunity with Warren Buffett, reinventing an old classic recipe like a master celebrity chef, or confronting an alien like Captain James T. Kirk on a remote planet, questions rule the day.
One author recently commented “asking good questions opens people to new ideas and unusual possibilities.”
It’s also what enabled a terrific company with an enviable track record to reinvent itself, tackling a $123 billion industry to become even more remarkable.
The Selfie Era and Clarity
Seems to be kind of native to each of us: that hyper-awareness of our own viewpoint of the world. We essentially believe everyone thinks as we do, which translates into “people see things as we see them.”
One look at any social media channel and that self-centric view of the world seems to be everywhere.
On a corporate level, it takes a different spin: some companies are able to see things as they are, intelligently (and accurately) matching the outer world’s perception.
Other companies look through rose-colored glasses: seeing in the mirror only the equivalent of George Clooney or Angelina Jolie in spite of having zits, morning-after hair and bad breath.
Which is where the role of accurate and insightful market research comes in.
It’s something the estimated 11,000 business books each year won’t resolve (that’s more than 1 book for every hour of every day).
The One Miserable Branding Mistake That Will Eat You Alive
Companies, in a passionate “selfie” love affair do this: They focus on what they do vs. what customers receive as a benefit, gain or desired change. The most overlooked branding mistake I see companies make month in and month out.
This is the likely suspect behind the estimated 80,000 business that fail each year.
There is no discussion what the companies help bring about. Nor about what the customer will gain. None of that.
Instead, they mistakenly focus on all the things they do as a company, forgetting about the end-user. Forgetting what their service or product does for their customer (something this INC 5000 company addressed successfully).
Getting it Right From the Ground Up
Recently I had the distinct honor to be called by the fantastic owner of a brilliant market research company in Minneapolis serving the $123 billion agricultural industry.
After a couple of conversations, it seemed a good fit and we were commissioned to rebrand her company.
We spent weeks sifting through what their company did versus what her clients were hiring the firm for.
During this data collection exercise, one question would be answered and another would pop up.
In the end, it had less to do with clients hiring their firm for data collection, but more for the great insights and how these translated into better performance and superior product definition. (This common mistake was also tackled for this INC 5000 company mentioned above.)
OK. But HOW do you take something like that and convert it into something instantly meaningful and impactful (while not being cliché) for a $123 billion industry?
- NOT with the above predictable words
- NOT with that routine message
- NOT with the typical “deliverable”
Such a routine approach would result in something too corporate, sounding like a gazillion other bits of “marketing lingo” which failed to differentiate (or communicate).
Judging a Book by its Cover:
You Bet Your Life
The first area to tackle was the company name.
If it wasn’t about “market research” (which is a very valuable means to the end but yet isn’t the end in itself), then we should name it something that matched the business value client’s needed and wanted:
With product performance as the foundation for the company’s new brand, it now became a matter of telling the right story.
The Branding Story That Changed Everything
So having discovered what is probably the most powerful weapon in brand storytelling, I took the next step.
I wrote a script and, tapping into all my resources to breathe life into this story, I found the perfect voice. Then I composed, edited and completed this video with interspersed quotes that weaved the entire brand story and value proposition together:
The video got center stage on the new Website in a new and distinct way showcasing a very different attitude, the brand new identity and the slogan, Unearthing product potential.
Then an eBook was written and designed to provide valuable information and to properly position the company as the thought leader in this agricultural space.
An Interview with the
Chief Product Liberator
After all these pieces were in place, I thought it would be insightful to interview Jan Johnson, who is now known by the title Chief Product Liberator, to share a bit about the process and what she learned along the way.
Describe your objective in the rebrand
“To go beyond a market research company, to really highlight our ability to help clients design and deliver products that exactly meet the needs of their customers. And also that great market research can help every company… there’s always something to learn from your customers.”
Describe what it was like going through this process
“David pushes and pulls you to reach outside your own thinking, and to reach out to your customers’ thinking as well.”
Was there an “aha” moment during the process? If so, what was it?
“Seeing the approach David took after our push and pull was amazing. He really captured how I wanted to position the company, which was well beyond our starting point.”
Some people may be asking “Why would a market research company go outside to rebrand itself?”
“Market researchers aren’t that good at turning facts into marketing. We can tell you what needs to be done from a marketing perspective, but it’s the creative process that challenges us.”
We understand you went through a “redefining moment” that changed how you saw your business and how your business would be presented to others. Please tell us a little about that and how that changed your view of your value to clients
“Well, when you get so used to doing what you do, and doing what you know, you sometimes forget the real value of your work, you think it’s common knowledge. I was presenting findings on a project and the product and marketing managers there really had no idea of the customer experience, the financial implications of those experiences, and how that could translate into the customer switching to a different brand at a higher price point. They were losing market share and had no idea why. I was able to clearly unearth the problems, and suggest solutions that would turn things around.”
What’s been the response for those who have seen the rebranding?
“Phenomenal. It’s as if people finally understand what the company does, and most importantly, how it can help them.”
Any recommendations you can offer to other businesses looking at reviewing their brand and determining if they should rebrand
“Work with David.”
The branding lesson here? To focus on the ones out there who we exchange our services and products with, not just ourselves, our own skills and our own specialties.
Great thanks to Jan for her time, energy and openness to exploring all the possibilities of her brand and her company.
Want More Rebranding Case Studies?
Here are seven additional posts on rebranding you’ll find of interest:
- 27 Years at Nike: “What I Learned about Branding”
- Milestone Systems: How an INC 5000 Company Got it Right
- Accessory Snobs rebrand: How the Wrong Logo Nearly Destroyed my Marriage
- Coco Polo Chocolate: Chocolate Makeover at the Fancy Food Show
- City of Osceola: 12.3 Billion Reasons Tourism Branding Makes Sense (the branding of a city)
- Glob Colors: Oscar Night, Prom Disasters and Rebranding
- and no list would be complete without How to Rebrand: 19 Questions to Ask Before You Start