19 October 2005

How to differentiate, just like everyone else

Starting a company or a new division? Launching a product?

To start with you'll need a name.

Now most entrepreneurs are really dumb and do silly things like name the company after themselves, ending up with meaningless names like Dell, Ford, Gillette, Bell or Hewlett-Packard. If they're a little bit smarter they might name the company something really boring, like General Motors, General Electric or International Business Machines. If they're a more ingenious they might come up with some kind of hybrid, like, for example, Wal-Mart.

But if you're an entrepreneur you shouldn't trust your instincts on something so important as your company's name. The right name could cost you thousands of dollars, but it'll be worth it. Just think: naming companies brought you such classics as Zobmondo, Activant, Jazelle, and Omniva.

Or you can take your chances and count on being a lucky idiot by naming your own company, like Bill Gates did.

Of course you'll need a logo. If your company name has an "i" in it, your best bet is to go to an expert who can help you turn the dot into a planet, or employ the time-tested design technique known as "ball and swoosh" to clearly distinguish you from the competition. If there is no "i" you may want to resort to the "stepping man," or perhaps "spirals and swirls."

Now for your tagline you'll need three words that represent your essence. For example: Scalable, Efficient, Secure. The experts can help you with this too.

Next you'll need a short "elevator pitch" so you and your sales team can quickly tell people what you do. Here's the formula for that:
For [industry segment or customer category], we are a [category of company] that provides [unique solution] which delivers [unique benefit/result].

Of course you will need a website with cool flash graphics and animated words (probably those "three words" that show how unique you are. And of course ball-and-swoosh business cards and brochures to match all of your other corporate materials, because everyone knows it's all about branding: the surest route to success and profitability is to become a household word that everyone recognizes.

If you follow these guidelines closely and listen to the experts, you'll be unique, like a snowflake or a fingerprint.

Just like everyone else.

There is an alternative: you can simply explain yourself.

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2 comments:

nick davis said...

Brilliant post.

Andrew Fife said...

I’ve posted slides for a talk on writing great elevator pitches that I moderated and links to my previous postings on elevator pitches here:

http://andrewbfife.blogspot.com/2006/02/great-elevator-pitches-svase.html

I hope this link will be helpful to anyone looking for help writing an elevator pitch.