“I feel like I just took a shot to the solar plexus.”
That was the reaction of our client when we finished presenting the results and accompanying creative recommendations of our recently-completed brand discovery study.
We couldn’t have been happier. Not that we have some kind of perverse interest in making our clients feel like they’ve been pummeled. But when you make them squirm a little, you know you’ve hit a nerve.
Of promises and prudence
What we were proposing was bold and aspirational, including a name change for the company to reflect the new position, as opposed to the more parochial, geographically-based name they’ve had for 30 years. The client agreed with the positioning recommendation — that they are the innovation leader in sustainable sourcing of their particular natural product. He was just concerned that, operationally speaking, they may not be in a position to deliver on the brand promise.
“It’s absolutely where we want to be,” he said. “We just aren’t there right now.”
It was a fair enough concern. This is a small company that competes in a global market against a mix of corporate giants, a few regional powers and many smaller companies, much like themselves. For a small player, they have an impressive list of blue chip customers to whom they wholesale their product.
Our brand discovery study showed us that their customers love them and truly see them as innovators, especially as it relates to sustainability. So the new position was believable enough. They actually had several significant initiatives that would change the discussion about what sustainability in their industry needs to look like in practice. But they were in their infancy.
Hence the nervousness. To his credit, the client realized that when you re-position, the last thing you want to do is fail to deliver on a brand promise. But they are committed to the new positioning and are working toward it from an operational standpoint.
Daring to be great
The name change and new creative will wait for now. But daring to be great is part of who they are as a company, as a brand. Which is why we love them as a client. They will take ownership of their leadership as these new initiatives establish a track record and prove their differentiating concept. When they do, their business will surely scale. And we look forward to helping them continue to grow and exert their influence on how not only they, but their entire industry, operates going forward.
And there you have it.