Where’s the beef? Defining your brand’s Big Idea

Friday Feb 14, 2014 by Michelle Heath - CMO / Marketing Consultant, Growth Street Marketing

If you were alive and eating cheeseburgers in 1984, you remember the commercial. It soon became a meme and even presidential hopefuls were spouting “Where’s the beef?” in their campaigns. The commercial juiced Wendy’s annual revenue by 31% and positioned the company as more beef and less bun, taking a serious jab at the competition. 30 years later, I’m asking “Where’s the beef?” and I’m not talking cheeseburgers, I’m talking about your brand.

Most brands are a whole lotta bun. Fluffy, squishy, gets soggy fast, no nutritional value, stale. You don’t want to be that brand. You want to be juicy, addictive, memorable, emotional, friend-worthy, loveable. When I eat a really good cheeseburger, I feel these things about the burger and the brand (okay maybe I have issues.) So, how do you focus your brand on delivering the beef?

It’s about defining your brand’s Big Idea. It’s the thing that defines your company at it’s heart and sole. It makes you different from all the other guys out there trying to eat your lunch. It connects you with your customers. It delivers value. It conveys emotion. It is the core of your brand position, your marketing content, your campaigns, your lead gen, your revenue stream. It sets you apart from your competition. It’s not a pitch. It’s not your logo. It’s not a campaign. It’s the words you use to define and differentiate your brand. If done well, it can become a tag line you use to define your brand to your customers.

I was checking out a bunch of companies for another project recently and came across the good, the bad the ugly. Here’s how I think they rate on articulating their Big Idea.

Yesware: “Improve sales performance.” Clear, simple, easy to understand. Gold star for value-focused big idea that immediately tells the customer what the value is for them. The Yesware “beef” is that they improve sales performance. Sold!

Ovuline: “Ovuline uses data to help couples conceive faster and have healthy pregnancies.” I give these guys a half star. While I love that they say exactly what they do and it is focused on their Big Idea, it sounds more like an agency positioning exercise that never got translated into human speak. Do I really care about data if I’m trying to get pregnant? No. I just want to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. Big data and machine learning has nothing to do with my goal of getting pregnant, even tho it is your IP and core intelligence and how your product works. Focus on the customer value first. How about: “Ovuline can predict your exact ovulation date with unbeatable accuracy. See how.” Now, I’m hooked. Now you can tell me about your data and fancy technology. Tell me why first.

Cloudera

Cloudera: “Ask Bigger Questions. The Cloudera Enterprise Data Hub has arrived.” Um, huh? No star. So, you want me to pay you to ask bigger questions? Maybe you should give me some answers. Enterprise data hub – now that has quite a ring to it. Rolls right off the tongue. What value is there in me asking bigger questions or having an enterprise data hub? Just because you are a big data company doesn’t mean anyone outside of your four walls has any clue what you are talking about. Big data is a crowded space – how are you different from all the other solutions, services and products out there? Differentiation is key to your Big Idea, big data.

So how do you get to your brand’s Big Idea: It starts with WHY.

1. Why would your customer buy your product?

2. What value does your product deliver to your customer?

3. Why is your product different than other similar products on the market?

4. Why is your product valuable in your market?

5. Why do your customers love your product? What else do they want it to do?

Once you have these answers in human speak, you have the beginnings of your Big Idea. Then it becomes an exercise in wordsmithing to put these ideas together simply and clearly and make your mark. Keep in mind, your Big Idea may feel more like what and who you want to be tomorrow, than who you are today. It’s okay for it to be aspirational, as long as you can deliver now on the core value or at least a big part of it, the rest then becomes gravy.

Is your brand beef or bun? Focus on your Big Idea and they’ll never need to ask.

Michelle Heath is a marketing consultant with Growth Street Marketing and the former CMO / VP of Marketing at Currensee and Matchmine.  You can find this blog post, as well as additional content on her blog located here.  You can also follow Michelle on Twitter (@michelleheath) by clicking here

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