How to Become an Influential Brand that has Impact
If you were asked “what does your business sell?”, most would respond with the product or service that your business offers. After all, your business IS your product, right?
While that is what most people believe, assuming your business is synonymous with your product is almost certain to put an expiration date on your brand and cap your potential success.
When you replace this way of thinking with a simple but monumental mindset shift, you will unlock the ability to:
- Make your business model much more resilient, predictable, successful, and scalable.
- Help you connect with your audience on a deeper level.
- Allow you to adapt faster than ever no matter what the economic conditions.
- Give you the needed inspiration to continue in hard times.
Think of the most influential businesses of our time: Apple, Tesla, Southwest, Nike, and the list goes on. They all have this one thing in common.
In this post, we’ll explain what that mindset shift is and how you can quickly start applying it in your business.
Why Equating Your Business to Your Product Caps Your Potential
Why do so many business owners define their business by the products they sell or the services they offer? Because they want to make it simple to understand and easy for customers to buy. However, if you want to be a brand that grows and stands the test of time, your business must be centered around your purpose— not your product.
The truth is, your products will need to change over time. Inevitably, your product line will be disrupted by changing times or growing competition. Or, your product will become irrelevant, ineffective, or no longer needed. Your product is not forever. But your purpose is.
This is why centering your business around your purpose is more than a nice thing to do. It’s a smart and necessary strategy to use if you want your business to withstand any climate. It’s a core element of becoming resilient. Your product can’t last forever, but your brand’s purpose can. This small shift is what separates long-standing brands that last no matter what from the businesses that rise and fall with the trends.
Product-Centered vs Purpose-Centered Businesses
As an example, consider any technology that has been innovated on, so certain products are now irrelevant. Remember cassette tapes and VCRs? What about Kodak cameras? If you build an entire company around one object being produced, the entire company will eventually need to be redefined or it will die.
Another instance are businesses that are based on a single-product and very transactional— meaning, no real brand behind the product. For example, let’s think about a company that solely sells trade show displays. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, the live events industry came to a halt and companies that supplied products for these events became handcuffed. Big problem for a company that only sells trade show displays. But if that company were built on a brand with a purpose rather than a product, they would be doing much better. Rather than “we make trade show displays”, their deeper purpose would be helping businesses reflect how awesome their products are. If that’s the goal, trade show displays are one of many ways they do that and they would be able to pivot to other offerings when the virus shut everything down.
We also see product-centered ecommerce companies pop up all the time thanks to a current fad in fashion, health, entertainment, you name it. And sadly, unless they have a strong reason for existing, they don’t last more than a few years before they are disrupted or fizzle out.
In contrast, TOMS is an example of a brand that has adapted and therefore remained successful for many years. In the beginning, they just made a basic shoe that quickly became trendy. For a time, a pair of original TOMS was the comfortable shoe to have, but now we hardly see anyone wearing that style. Why are they still in business? Because their mission was never just about selling this particular shoe. The core of the brand is about giving back to those in need. This gave them room to be innovative because they weren’t tied to their trademark shoe style. These days, they make boots, sandals, and heels, plus sunglasses, eyeglasses, and a few pet accessories. Their give-back purpose is still at the front of what they do, and they have also been able to adapt to what their customers needed over time.
Is Your Business Too Product-Centered? 5 Questions to Ask.
How do you know if your business is too product-centered? Let’s look at five questions that can help determine if you need to shift to more of a purpose mindset than a product mindset.
1. Does your business have a bigger vision than what you sell?
Or are you purely in business to make and sell a popular item? If you think you do have a vision or purpose, do the other people in your business know about it? Make sure everyone on your team has a deep understanding of it so it can be communicated consistently in every area of the business.
2. Does your marketing only talk about the features and benefits of your product?
In contrast, a business with purpose uses marketing to place more of an emphasis on the results your products create. It explains how it will change an area of the customer’s life, rather than just spelling out the facts.
3. Are you innovating on your product?
We cannot stress the importance of this enough. Improving your flagship product (and adding more complementary products) is critical for increasing average order value, customer lifetime value, building brand fans, and ultimately becoming an influential brand that lasts. If you are looking at improving your current product, take a look at the prompting questions you ask when doing so. Is your question, “How do we make a better VCR?” or “How can I make media come to life for families who love watching movies?”
4. Do you have only one product?
As mentioned above, expanding your product line will be crucial for long-term success. Even if you do have several products, ask yourself whether this is something people will only buy once, or if there will be a need for them to come back.
5. What would happen if your main product becomes irrelevant?
Will this put you out of business? Will you be out of ideas and have to go back to the drawing board to start from scratch? Or will you be able to rethink a different product quickly because it falls in line with your purpose?
5 Steps to Move From Product-Centered to Purpose-Centered
If you think your business is more centered around your products than anything else, now is the time to correct your course— it’s not too late, but you’ll want to start adjusting now. Here are five steps to help you start moving from a product-centered to a purpose-centered business today.
1. Establish Your Purpose
To begin, ask yourself why your business exists. If you need to start, high level and then dig deeper by asking yourself “why?” another 6 times (literally). This will help you really get to the core of your mission.
If you’re a long-standing business, it’s possible that you had a deeper purpose at one point, but it got lost over time. Has it become so watered down that your customers don’t know what it is? Is your product development team aware of it?
2. Define Your Vision
Take your “why” (your purpose) and cast a vision for your brand. This vision should transcend products and time and further reflect why you exist.
3. Communicate Internally
Once you’ve defined a purpose and a vision for why your company exists, communicate this to your team internally. Everyone needs to be aware, especially teams involved in innovation, product development, and marketing. When everyone has a deep understanding of the brand’s purpose, you’ll be able to develop products and market them with a consistent, powerful message.
4. Communicate to Your Audience
Next, communicate this to your audience. Elements of your brand’s purpose can appear in a variety of places such as your “about” page, product pages, blog content, email marketing, Facebook ads, and more. People will rally much louder around a purpose than they will for a product. This goes back to an idea we talk about often, which is that consumers make purchase decisions based on emotions far more often than facts.
5. Start Making More Products
Once you have your purpose dialed in and you are communicating it on your site and through your marketing, it’s time to think bigger. Develop more products! This will take dedicated resources and can’t be put on the back burner, because the key is to have new products in the works before you need them. For more info on developing your product line, check out our post It’s Time to Rethink R&D for Ecommerce.
Make The Move
Ready to take your brand to the next level so you can attain influence and longevity? Defining your purpose using the exercises above are the best place to start.
For more guidance on developing a business with a defined brand and deep purpose, check out our series of articles on Building a Brand That Lasts Forever.