Show your latest creative idea to a Zoomfull of stakeholders and someone will inevitably trot out this evergreen objection:
“But anyone could say that. If we covered the logo you could never tell who it’s from—could even be from [insert arch-competitor].”
When I hear that objection, I kick myself under the desk. Because it was my job to prepare these stakeholders—and part of that preparation should have been about the difference between differentiation and evangelism.
Sometimes the best strategy is to lead with the ways you’re different from the competition. But not always—and not even that often. (Salespeople may focus on differentiators but marketers usually can’t yet—until we’ve got the prospect in the room).
More often, the best strategy is to evangelize your beliefs (the things that make you you) or your benefits (which may also be those of the whole category) even if there are other brands that may hold those beliefs and offer those benefits.
If you bend over backwards to say things that only your company can say, you’ll often find yourself saying trivial things and emphasizing peripheral benefits, leaving the core, category benefits (the ones your buyers care most about) to your competitors.
Say it first and best
Let’s face it, in tech markets, there often isn’t anything you can say that no one else can say. Software is too easy to copy. Most brands do pretty much what their competitors do.
But when you plant a flag in an idea, and commit to it, it becomes yours.
And when you say something in your own way, with confidence and energy and mojo, you own it.
An example: When Dan Wieden came up with “Just Do It.” for Nike, Phil Knight, the CEO, wasn’t convinced (Apparently, his argument went something like, “We don’t need this shit.”).
After all, any of Nike’s competitors could say the same thing.
If you covered the logo and swapped in some other logo…
Today, 90% of sentient adults—and 100% of people who buy sneakers—connect this ‘anyone-could-say-it’ line to this mega-brand.
Anyone could have said it.
Nike did say it.
So the next time the Senior EVP of EMEA pipes up with “If you cover the logo…”, please don’t accept it as a valid reason to kill your idea.
Marketers can’t do marketing if all we can say is what only we can say.