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Discover Your Brand’s “Pivot Point” to Power Future Growth

Why is it that Coke can market all kinds of mutated varieties such as Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Diet Vanilla Cherry Coke, etc., and consumers literally drink it up? But when Mercedes came out with a low end version of their car, the “real” Mercedes owners were horrified? To discover the answer requires identifying a company’s “pivot point.” The pivot point of your brand is that inherent promise you have made, (wittingly or unwittingly), with your customers. And while you can move your brand in any number of directions, that one pivot point, that key element of trust, must remain steadfastly in place. Want proof? Ask yourself, hypothetically, which of the following would be more accepted in the marketplace…

– Rolex announcing that it was coming out with a very high end clothing line?

– Rolex announcing that is was going to sell a $10 version of its watches at Wal-Mart?

Rationally it would make more sense that Rolex would extend itself further in the watch category. But Rolex really isn’t in the watch business, it’s in the prestige business. That’s the pivot point, or “position,” it owns in the customer’s mind. To create a cheap, widely available watch would seem more like a betrayal than a brand extension. It’s obvious once you really think about it, but how many times do companies believe they are in the business of the product they make?

If a naming firm positioned itself for its brilliant branding, it would be a logical brand extension to eventually offer brilliant public relations or enlightened copy writing (vs. a super cheap, dumbed down version of their branding services) So rather than attempting to cover both ends of the pricing scale, it would be better to create an entirely new brand for the cheaper services. That way the main brand is not diluted. The pivot point of brilliance is kept in tact.

As an example, a client of mine was at a loss on how to grow his tuxedo business. It was post 9-11 and the mood was anything but festive. When I asked him what business he was in, he was flabbergasted, “Tuxedos of course!”. In fact he was the second generation of tuxedo sellers. But then I prodded him again. “Do men really want to wear heavy, tight-fitting, expensive tuxedos?” He thought for a moment and finally replied no. As he sat confused, I asked him again, “What business are you really in… what do that makes customers love you?” His eyes widened and he replied “We make men look good!”

He has discovered his “pivot point”.

Making men look good brought with it all kinds of new possibilities. He could gather his customer’s email addresses while they shopped for tuxedos, and then send them thoughtful reminders before loved ones birthdays and anniversaries, with recommendations on the perfect jewelry, flowers or chocolates. He could make a commission on these products all while making his male customers “look good”. He could extend his product line to include business suits, since he would no longer be just a “tuxedo” shop, but a place where men could come to look good in the eyes of others. See how important that subtle distinction can be? Instead of being stuck in a dead end industry, the world was suddenly full of possibilities. That’s powerful stuff.

So in looking at your business, what is your pivot point? What is it about your business that makes your core customers love it, use it, and spread the word about it? It’s probably not the goods themselves but the way in which you deliver them. And that’s what customers are truly buying. That’s your pivot point. Find it and you can move your business in entirely new, and profitable, directions!