I once asked a top executive of a toiletries company (primarily producing soaps) about his company’s business. The question was: “what is your business?” Startled and smiled, he answered that they were primarily producing soap. Isn’t that obvious?
I guess many executives and CEOs around the world would give similar answers. If you are producing orange juice, you are in the business of orange juice. If you are selling bananas, you are in the business of bananas. If you are catching and selling monkeys to circus groups, you are in the business of selling monkeys. Oh great!
From “product” point of view, those answers are correct. But from “brand” point of view, those answers are less than correct. Let us explore why this is so.
If you look into how top brands of the world define their businesses, you will find a fundamentally different thinking process in them, not necessarily that they have a fundamentally much different products from average global brands. Avon, a cosmetics producer for women, does not say that they sell cosmetics to women. In their words, they say “We sell hope”. They mean the hope of making you more beautiful. Instead of saying that they are in the business of cosmetics, their thinking process tells them that they are in the business of “hope”. While “selling cosmetics” is a rational definition, “selling hope” is an emotional definition. In the same way, Nokia does not say that they sell mobile phones. Rather, they are in the business of “connecting people”. So where is the fundamental difference in the thinking process? The difference lies in exploring the emotional connection that their definition is creating between the company and customers. This “emotional” connection is of great importance in creating a successful brand that excels other products that might be competing based on “rational” definition.