Competition, positioning and blazing your own trail

I’m gonna open up the Brains on Fire heart and soul here for a moment and talk about something that we struggle with: it’s how we talk about what we do as a company.

Here’s the dilemma: If you use your own language, then you have to explain harder what you do. But if you use the same language as everyone else, then you fall into the “just another” category. Over the years, we have leaned (pretty hard, as a matter of fact) in the direction of using our own language, either as a way to differentiate ourselves or because we truly can’t find anyone that does what we do, which is this place where identity and sustainable word of mouth come together.

So a while back, we started using the word “identity” instead of “branding” because it helped us state our case that branding goes much deeper then the logo and PMS colors. And then when this whole word of mouth marketing thing came along, we finally had a word for what we had been doing, but needed to differentiate between what other companies were pitching – which was 6 week flashes in the pan – and the long-term programs that we create: thus the word “movements.”

I have to admit, in the beginning we had to work hard to explain what movements are in the context of Brains on Fire. And now as we start to look around, other companies are talking about creating “movements.” We’re seeing the same language start to show up in people’s presentations and marketing books – and we think that’s great. By no means am I saying that we are the source of those words and that other people are copying us, I’m just saying that it’s a dilemma.

So do you see the two sides of the coin? One is that it’s easy to explain what you do – because there are so many others like you out there. And the other is that it’s hard to explain what you do, because people have no frame of reference. No context.

When you go back and look at the companies that you admire, which side of the coin do they fall on? I know my answer.



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