What’s a Ford? I know what a Ford is: it’s a large or small, cheap or expensive, car or truck. If somebody says to you, “I bought a Ford,” not much was said. Did they buy a Shelby for $50,000 or a Focus for $13,000? There’s a big difference there. So to say, “I bought a “Ford” is saying nothing, because the brand doesn’t stand for any one thing! Get it?
Al Ries, international marketing expert, has said, ” Many, many, many brands today do not stand for anything, because they’re into everything. If you’re into everything, the brand can’t possibly stand for a single thing”.
When it comes to focus, one needs to narrow it, not widen it. With our company, Bert Martinez Communications, works with clients all the time looking for ways to narrow their focus and get them out of offering too much stuff. However, many businesses aren’t keen on the idea, because when one narrows their focus they have to drop some product line. So what happens in the short term? When you drop a products or services, you’re going to lose some business initially. And nobody wants to do that. To the average business owner, the thought is “You’re nuts, we can’t do that!”
I’ll give you an example. We were doing some consulting for a supplement retailer. Now, the clients has twelve products with a similar name. We said to them, “That’s too confusing. Let’s decrease it.” Their reply was, “No! We can’t do that.” You see, they know the percentage of sales each one of those 12 products brings in, right? So they think, “If we make it six products, it means we’re going to lose 34% of the business.” They look at the numbers and what will happen in the very short term, but they don’t look at the long term implications. The implication is when you simplify your product line, you make it easier for consumers to know what you’re selling and you’ll sell more, but not in the immediate short term.
Well, to make the point, let’s take Home Depot for example. Home Depot was the first home improvement store. Whatever that means, but to the average person it meant that if you have a “honey-do or home” project to do, you could go to Home Depot and get everything you need to complete your project (fencing, flooring, paint… you name it). Home Depot stands for home improvements DIY projects for the home. They not only sell everything home, but they sell it at a very good price. So, Home Depot is to home improvements what Wal-Mart is to shopping. Big selection low prices.
You see Google doing the same as Ford or Chevrolet, there’s Google the search engine, Google TV and Google phones, soon Google won’t have the same meaning it has today.
Toyota has done a better job, a Toyota stands for one thing while Lexus stands for something
different both are own by Toyota.
What does Kraft macaroni & cheese, Di Giorno Pizza, Tombstone Pizza, Kool-Aid , and Marlboro cigarettes have in common? They’re BIG brands that stand for specific word or idea and they’re owned by tobacco giant Philip Morris.
Don’t promise everything; promise one thing. Your product or service might be great at lots of things, but “lots of things” isn’t an idea that gets into the minds of consumers and isn’t an idea to get excited about. Focus on one key idea. Preferably one that is the opposite of the competition.
So a “narrow focus” is a long-term concept that can eliminate the short term issues, but it’s a tough decision at first.