This Twin Force Drives the Most Successful Brands

You are here:
Module 1: How to Position Your Brand to Sell
Section 4: How to Create Your Brand Strategy
Post 1: This Twin Force Drives the Most Successful Brands

So far, we’ve talked a lot about the psychology behind your brand. Now we want to shift slightly and look at your brand philosophy.

We can’t think of a better illustration than Ingvar Kamprad. He grew up on a farm called Elmtaryd near Agunnaryd, a small town in Sweden. (You’ll soon see the reason for all the detail here.)

When he was just five years old, he started selling matches to his neighbors. He bought the matches in bulk from Stockholm so he could give his customers a great deal while still pocketing a profit for himself.

At seven, he expanded his territory. His storefront? His bicycle!

He was so successful that he branched out into other products – greeting cards, decorations for Christmas trees, flower seeds, pens and pencils.

In all cases, he had a single focus: find the best deal and pass the savings on to his customers.

When he was 17, his dad rewarded him for doing well in school. He used the money to set up a business.

He named the business by using his initials (IK) along with the first letter of the family farm (E) and the nearby village (A).

IKEA was born!

At first, he sold pens, picture frames, table runners, watches, jewelry and nylon stockings. He expanded beyond his little town and started selling goods by mail order.

He was doing great. Five years passed. But he was always on the lookout for more things to sell. That’s how he found his BIGG opportunity…

He noticed a number of furniture manufacturers were located in and around the forest near his hometown. So he tried selling their goods to his customers.

The response was fantastic. So he expanded his line of furniture. And expanded. And expanded.

Today, IKEA is the largest furniture retailer in the world! They are known for modern designs coupled with eco-friendly simplicity at a great price.

They convey it all to the world with a simple statement: “to create a better everyday life for the many people.”

Ten words – one or two syllables with one exception (“everyday”), no confusion, no words which give pause, no jargon.

Yet it instantly sparks curiosity. Who are “the many people”?

They’re glad you asked! Here’s their explanation:

“Beautifully designed home furnishings are usually created for the few who can afford them. From the beginning, IKEA has taken a different path. We have decided to side with the many.”

They continue, “It’s not difficult to manufacture expensive fine furniture: just spend the money and let the customers pay. To manufacture beautiful, durable furniture at low prices is not so easy – it requires a different approach. It is all about finding simple solutions and saving on every method, process or approach adopted – but not on ideas.”

Do you see the power in these words? IKEA is a hero!

They don’t serve rich people. They serve regular people.

They don’t do what’s easy. Oh no – they tackle a challenge, and their customers reap the rewards!

So what can we takeaway from this IKEA example?

You need a “what” powered by a “why”

Brands that succeed have a “what” powered by a “why”.

Your what is your vision. It touches hearts.

Your why is your mission. It touches souls.

Here’s a quote we picked up along the way which describes why a what powered by a why is so important to the success of your brand:

Touch Me
Touch my mind – you have my thoughts.
Touch my heart – you have my love.
Touch my soul – you have my passion.
Touch all three and you have me.

If you want to build a brand that sells, you must win all three – mind, heart and soul. You do that with your business philosophy, coupled with the other topics we’ll discuss in this section.

We talked earlier about answering the most brutal question in business – what do you do? Your response to that question starts the conversation about your brand. It helps you get customers.

Now we’re moving on to the BIGG picture – your what and your why. They’re the glue which makes people stick to you and your brand.

But that’s just the beginning – they also turn loyal customers into dedicated ambassadors for your brand. But it goes beyond customers…

Employees want to feel connected to a BIGG cause. Sure, they want to do a good job and make a decent living.

But we all spend the majority of our waking hours at work. Your best people – the kind of employees you want to attract – want to:

  • feel like the work they do serves a bigger purpose
  • know it makes a difference in people’s lives
  • see they’re making the world a better place

THEN they buy in. They take ownership of their jobs:

  • They’re more productive because they’re driven by a cause, not just a check.
  • They remain loyal so you save the time and money wasted by turnover.
  • They manage themselves so you can work on more important things.

You see, your brand is just as important for internal marketing as it is for external purposes. So you need a simple, stirring statement of your what and your why.

Do you want a statement that sells or a wall decoration?

Note that we said “a simple, stirring statement” in that last sentence. The reason is you have to make a choice. You can:

  • try to “get by” without a statement
  • create a statement which is nothing more than a wall decoration
  • craft a compelling statement

Sadly, most business owners choose the first one. Let them do it – they’ll work too much and make too little.

Many choose the second one. They suddenly become some sort of robot which spews forth platitudes, jargon and buzz words. The end product is printed, framed and placed on the wall where everyone can see it.

Unfortunately, everyone ignores it because it is meaningless garble. Here’s an example:

Mission Statement

Your third option is to create a what/why statement. It should be simple, so it’s easily understood. It should be short, so it’s easy to remember. It should evoke emotion, so people are compelled to act.

The statement we just showed you doesn’t score on any of these three points. On the other hand, IKEA scores 100%.

You don’t have to tell your whole story in one sentence. So don’t try. Instead, you can supply more information when people are interested. In other words…

Your what/why statement should be intriguing enough
to make people want to hear the rest of your story.

Most of all it should be intriguing to you! It should be personal. IKEA focuses on keeping costs down. It’s a philosophy its founder has had his whole life.

Your brand is a reflection of you, coupled with an opportunity.

Trends and fads, opportunities and threats

The world moves too fast to predict the future. However, you have to try…just a little bit.

We won’t ask you to look too far down the road. We’ll look at something that’s doable – five years.

What will the world be like in five years for your ideal customers? How will your industry be different?

Separate the fads from the trends. Fads come and go. So while you may be able to profit from one short-term, you can’t build a brand on it.

On the other hand, you can ride a trend to BIGG success!

Trends are to entrepreneurs what waves are to surfers – they can create a fun ride or they can send you flying into the deep sea!

So you want to look at trends as they relate to you, your customers, your industry and the world at large. For each trend you identify, ask:

Does this trend present an opportunity, a threat or both?

To discover the answer, think about what’s driving the change. It may be economics, demographics, technology, regulation or some other factor.

We talked about your strengths and weaknesses earlier – yours and your competitors. It’s time to think about them again, as it relates to opportunities and threats. Ask the following questions:

What role can you play? How can you care for your customers in light of the trend?

How could you compete? Think about your HIPODs and how the trend relates to them.

Are people demanding a better product or service? Is there an opportunity to deliver a better experience? How can you build your relationships by helping your ideal customers navigate the changes?

And here are the ultimate questions…

  • What difference will you make?

This is your what. By taking a different approach, IKEA makes fine furniture affordable. This vision impacts every part of their business.

Your what will do the same for you. It helps you find and maintain your focus.

  • What difference will your difference make?

This is your why. IKEA makes everyday life better for “the many people”. It’s a cause you can get behind.

Your why isn’t self-serving – it’s not “create wealth” or “be the leading provider.” It’s about serving some greater cause, some group of people.

It’s not platitudes like “to change the world.” It’s practical, yet emotional.

When you have a what powered by a why, you’ll touch the minds, hearts and souls of the people you want in your business. Money follows.

Next Step

Take your pick: You can go to Part 1 of the Create Your Brand Strategy Guidebook or go on to the next post. We recommend going to the Guidebook.

And if you have any questions, email us at with “BTS QUESTION” in the subject line.