Be First, Best or Different

By Ken Gasque

Loretta Lynn said, “You either have to be first, best or different.”

Being first with a good idea is really difficult and may not happen to you but once in your lifetime, if it happens then. Apple’s iPhone, Coca-Cola, WD-40, Dixie Cups, Post-it Notes, Duct Tape, and Google are just a few great ideas that were first to the market.

Being best is almost impossible when the measure is taste because of the endless possibilities. Claiming ‘best’ is one thing, providing is another. Wine and beer tasting narrow it down, but no one can seriously claim to be the best in a beverage category. So, that leaves different.

But being different, repositioning or rebranding can be just as effective as being the first one to bring a great idea to market. Think differentiation. Thin about Starbucks. Coffee has been served in this country since the late seventeenth century. But it was the Boston Tea Party that repositioned it as the ‘patriotic’ caffeine drink to drink. However, it took another 200 years before Starbucks rebranded generic coffee and the coffee house. Starbucks was different in taste, in the environment where it was served and its price. Starbucks was perceived as the best by the way it was presented and the price it asked. Starbucks used imagination in selecting a name. Most committees would have tossed out the possibility of a name like Starbucks because it didn’t ‘say’ coffee and it presented an image of something or someone flamboyant. They would have insisted on something like Maxwell House Coffee or Taster’s Choice Coffee. Being different involves risks and panache and takes courage.

With all of the ‘unusual’ beer names out there it may be time to look for something that is the opposite of what is being done. When everyone is going the same way and doing the same thing. That maybe the time to go a different way and ‘march to a different drummer.’ Maybe it is time to create a product with a more common name. Maybe it is time to use good design. It takes courage but maybe it is time to do the opposite.

We buy with our eyes
For more information on developing a brand visit /blog/the-brand-development-process-think-like-a-7-year-old

About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand image-maker, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on brands, design, images and brand development. We build brands using knowledge, experience and magic!

Good enough isn’t, or is it?

By Ken Gasque

Photo by Diego Catto

The phrase “Good enough isn’t” was coined by Los Angles advertising agency Chiat/Day and emblazoned on employee tee shirts. Chiat/Day was trying to keep up with its innovative account Apple Computer and Steve Jobs perfectionist philosophy…which is unattainable.

Walter Isaacson is Steve Jobs biographer. In his book, Steve Jobs, he gives an example of Jobs drive for perfection: “Steve in his first stint at Apple, was such a perfectionist that he holds up shipping the original Macintosh because he doesn’t think the circuit board inside is pretty enough. Even though nobody will ever see it. And after a while, he gets fired from Apple because he’s such a perfectionist. And he would say, “Well, real artists sign their work,” meaning they have to wait until they are perfect before they ship. When he comes back to Apple at the end of the 1990’s, they give him a new motto, which is, “Real artists ship.”

Photo by k u on Unsplash

Most companies don’t have this kind of drive for profection (they wouldn’t last if they did). Most merely use boastful advertising that claims a product or service to be the best. It is boring, unbelievable and, more likely than not, to be a turnoff. Why? Because the advertiser usually can’t prove that their claim is true and that they really are the best, even if they are. Do we really care?

Photo by Thomas Le

However, We have a client that does provide the best product in his category. No, he really does.  He spends thousands of dollars yearly conducting tests and having outside labs conduct tests to prove his product is the best. Is his product the best? Absolutely, but it is only marginally. Sometimes the difference between being the best and being second best or “pretty good” is very insignificant, measurable only in the lab by a trained technician with some very sophisticated measuring equipment. The difference is maybe 2% better. The costs for that extra 2% is about 20% more than the competitors product.

Quality is important, but the consumer does not pay much attention to claims that “We Are The Best!” and usually they can’t tell the difference.

Think about your own experiences. If you are searching for a service do you start out looking for the very best? Doubtful. Do you compare and analyze services? Probably not. If you are looking for a printer do you run tests to determine the best printer? Or if you are looking for a dry cleaner, or accountant, or coffee vendor, or yard maintenance person do you spend much time looking for the best?

Your advertising and marketing should help you develop a brand that makes the customer feel “pretty good” about your product or service. Do not misunderstand; you still have to provide the best you can. Your product has to be quality, your service has to be fantastic and you have to be there to back it up. But all of that is expected. Your branding needs to help the customer experience the brand, enjoy it and feel that it is “pretty good.” 

About Ken Gasque

Ken Gasque is a brand image-maker, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on brands, design, images and brand development. We build brands using knowledge, experience and magic!