Who are you? I really wanna know!


Have you ever noticed that some people (especially politicians), products and companies describe themselves by saying who or what they ARE NOT, rather than who or what they ARE?

You’ve heard all the variations: “I’m not like my competitor.” “We’re different from the leading brand.”

Why do people — and companies — uses this messaging tactic so often? And we have all done this at some time or another. It invests an awful amount of energy into someone else’s brand story, rather than your own.  I think the reason is because it’s easy to do and uses an established brand — good or bad — around which we can package our message. Unfortunately, when you do this, it tends to dominate the conversation.

There is another way which I think works much better. Simply state who you are or what your brand is about. On my company pages we say, “We pride ourselves on being a small agency that is client-service oriented” rather than, “we’re not a gigantic agency.” It places the focus on OUR brand story, delivered in the context or frame that we’ve built.

That way, we can then have an entire brand conversation without the need to ever directly mention other brands.

Besides, clients — internal or external — want us marketers to talk about THEM, not ourselves or others. So let’s focus on doing that!

From the Wayback Machine: A version of this post first appeared in 2007.