Own Your Category

by Erik K. Johnson

Great brands own their category by consistently communicating one focused message.  Think of some of the best known brands in America.  The best-known soda in the world is defined by “the real thing”.  Who serves more hamburgers than anyone in the world?  Save 15% on your car insurance.  You’re a great athlete … just do it!  Coca Cola, McDonalds, Geico, and Nike all deliver focused and consistent messages and thereby become solid brands.

If you study the great brands, you will notice they stand for one specific thing. McDonald’s isn’t simply “food”. It isn’t even “fast food”. McDonalds is hamburgers. Sure, they have other items on their menu. However, they are not known for their apple pies or chocolate milk. McDonald’s is known as a hamburger joint.

When you begin to define your brand and strategy, be specific. What is the one thing for which you will be known? What is the one thing that will make you stand out and be remembered? You can ask yourself, “When people think of my brand, they think of _____.” It will be very difficult to become a memorable brand if you fill in that blank with some generic term like computers or cars or health.

Be specific, be focused, be consistent and own your brand.