By Mark Overbye
I want one. A flamethrower. Not sure why, I guess I’m intrigued by how they came to be.
There’s a guy over there I’d really like to start on fire. Too far away to use a match. If he sees me approaching he may not ignite while he’s running away. So it’s best to be further away. The element of surprise is baked into the design. Tricky.
Perhaps that’s how Richard Fiedler sold his invention to the German army in 1901. Capable of shooting a viscous flame over 18 meters, the Flammenwerfer 35 was unleashed upon French fighters by German troops in Verdun, France on February 26, 1915. Immediately proving its potency, the Germans adopted flamethrowers on all fronts in WW1. Brutally effective, flame throwing German squads were deployed extensively in over 650 attacks.
By WW2 every major army adopted flame throwers. Throughout the Pacific and European theaters, the US army deployed man-portable and Sherman tanks mounted with flamethrowers. Victory credits in New Guinea, the Philippines, Okinawa and on D Day at Normandy include flamethrowers.
A flamethrower’s branding is instantly clear. See it operate and you grasp its potential. If you’re in weapons procurement, you promptly see a fit.
I love this branding quote: “A brand is a promise. It’s a promise that your company can keep. You make and keep that promise in every product experience, marketing activity, every action, every corporate decision, every customer interaction.”
How clear is your brand?
You only have a few seconds to make an impression. Is that impression selling a feature, solving a problem or announcing your promise? Every impression should be laced with your promise. Your promise is a business cornerstone, the root of all business actions. Your promise is your brand DNA, a compass guiding your business trajectory.
Think for a moment of how you’d market and sell wine. The selection in most wine sellers is bewildering. Even the most dedicated wine aficionados deliberate.
You’d probably start with taste or grapes or a vineyard story. But that’s too pedestrian. The challenge is daunting. When you leave the camp of common ideas you become a target for weirdness and financial people start shaking their heads.
From 1978 to 1981 Paul Masson’s California Winery did break with the camp of tradition, creating favor with a brilliant campaign. Some creatively-starved marketers thought Paul Masson was walking the plank, especially for a venerable vintner producing wines since 1892. Paul Masson didn’t talk about the grape quality, taste or their vineyards, they claimed new ground, “We will sell no wine before its time.”
A testament to quality standards, implied great taste and a key differentiator, it’s a business mantra threading everything Paul Masson's winery stood for. So significant is the branding line, we will sell no wine before its time, it bears a trademark from the USPTO, # 87453434.
The rebranding was a huge success, sales rose 30% and the Paul Masson image notched up. We will sell no wine before its time ads ran in various media channels across the planet through 1985 and are still referenced today in marketing and comedic venues.
Do you have a one sentence branding identifier of your promise?
Not having a compelling branding statement puts you behind competitors that do. Today’s buyers want to quickly identify who you are and why they should direct their dollars to your bank account.
The right branding message greases the wheels of commerce, creates affinity and cultivates loyalty. Targeting the right clients becomes easier, and if your message is a fit, drives higher margins with less begging.
Simon Sinek’s true message of optimal connections through expressing your Why only gets a chance when you’re on the radar of consideration. That invitation gets opened when Who you are resonates. Thus, if you’re hungry for a cookie you’re not likely to hunt for tires. No matter how compelling a tire company’s Why is, you don’t care. Give your Why a head start by clarifying your Who.
As a seller you want to be at that intersection where the searcher with desire and money discovers your solution. The better your branding sings your solution, the closer to the top of the hits chart you’ll climb.
If you’re a business leader, think about what your sales team and marketing efforts are saying right now. Do they offer the promise of a solution? Does your messaging define your market difference? Is there an advantage of price, quality or innovation? If what you’re announcing to the world is the same as the competition but a different color, be prepared to fail. If your sales team is underperforming are you looking internally at the product or externally at the market?
Be the flamethrower of your segment. Make your solutions so clear that the market directly understands who you are and whether there’s a fit for their need. When this is well done, more deals get closed more quickly. That’s what you want.
Mark Overbye is the CEO of Anthem Marine, as well as the chairman of USA Waterski and Wake Sports Foundation. He is also the founder of Montara Boats and Gekko Sports.