What do Apple, Harley Davidson, Disney, and Coca-Cola have in common? In addition to being mainstays of American culture, these companies are excellent examples of organizations that understand who they are and have embraced that realization to great effect. These corporations know their positions and believe in what they do. Each has achieved a kind of oneness in the grand struggle of corporate identity. Not accidentally, everything about these companies—especially the way they talk about themselves—reflects a particular niche.
Disney, for instance, is all about entertainment. From the studio’s logo to Disney theme parks, everything reflects that identity. “Magic” is the mantra—the Magic Kingdom and the magic found in stories like Frozen and Star Wars. Disney has carefully crafted this role and never strays from the narrative. Disney sells more than just movies. It sells an experience.
Apple is another example of an achieved corporate identity. This company has transformed the way people interact with technology and proudly states as much in the opening line of its boilerplate statement.¹ Apple believes in itself. This message is clear in everything the company produces. From commercials, to tech conference keynote addresses, to the very welcome screen that greets you when you turn on a Macintosh, everything communicates, “This is a great product. We know it, and you know it. Welcome to our world of technology.” Thus, Apple sells more than just iDevices; Apple sells a complete user experience.
The list goes on. Coca-Cola does not sell carbonated beverages; it sells refreshment and friendship. Harley Davidson does not sell motorcycles; it sells rebellion and freedom. Each has earned its place in the public consciousness through careful positioning.
Of course, it’s not always that easy. Disney, Apple, Coca-Cola, and Harley Davidson are selling things that people like to talk about. Not all products have the same advantage. Yet there are important lessons to be learned in how these companies position themselves—lessons that can be applied to almost any product. Strategic, intentional framing is the key.
Xarelto, for instance, is a blood thinner that treats blood clots: not exactly appropriate dinner conversation. Yet, when the company advertises, it does not divulge the gritty details of the drug. Instead, the commercials wisely focus on what taking the drug allows—the continuing enjoyment of life—by incorporating scenes of a golf outing and a luncheon with friends.
For another example, consider Dow. Technically a chemical company, this organization tends to minimize the use of the “chemical” term in its web presence and advertisements, focusing instead on such noble goals as “progress” and “building the future.” It’s all about framing.
You may be wondering about the applicability of multi-billion corporations’ examples to your business. Just as each of these organizations has found its niche, so too can your company begin to frame its own messaging. Identifying your particular niche is as simple as realizing that your company is a broad assortment of services, perceptions, and stereotypes. Conduct research to learn what your clients care about. Test your messages and weed out the ineffective ones. Then, tailor your marketing to the most effective, focused aspects that best reflect your intentions.
Need a few ideas? Try thinking beyond what your product does, to what your product allows. For instance:
- You are not a bookseller; you are a purveyor of knowledge and fun!
- You don’t sell suits; you sell style and second dates.
- You are not a restaurant that sells food; you create family time and grow friendships.
- You don’t sell coffee; you provide comfort and conversation in a mug.
Think creatively about what kind of framing would benefit your business. Test your messages. See if they appeal to your intended audience. Maintain consistency in your verbiage, and you’ll begin to build a strong identity.
If all this seems overwhelming, or if you are having trouble positioning your marketing, let 212 Media Studios assist. Our professionals have decades of experience in the industry, and we know how to identify consumer desires, test messages, and focus on your company’s strengths to ensure that your customers see you positively, both now and in the future.
Let us help you frame your services and craft your public identity. Give us a call today.