by Guest Author on March 8, 2013
It can be pretty mind-blowing when you begin to notice and make connections from different walks of life. It becomes a reinterpretation of the world around you. Breathtaking. I have found people have a unique way to relive history. A way to bring the past to the present. They have done so through a single way we all know as themes. Themes have become so common place we have relegated them to parties or festivals but here’s what I’ve noticed about them; a theme sends a strong message. It aids people in having an almost concrete idea of what the occasion is and what they should expect. It does so in a few words. I know companies have pledges and mission statements but does that really tell the customer anything? Usually it leaves them confused. Let’s fix this.
Pick a word: Themes are usually simple words. To make the job easier pick one. It has to be a word that espouses everything you think your company stands for or will stand for. You must think very hard and choose carefully. This word will make up a huge chunk of your company’s message. This word will set the tone for the direction of your company in the minds of consumers. The word should not have a compound meaning. Don’t pick a word like “innovative” or “creative”. Those words have lost their meaning these days. Choose words that will be uniquely you ten years from now. Vanmoof has chosen “fresh.”
Ask what it means to you: As the company head, is this word you? Does this word conflict with your values? Does this word set off butterflies in your stomach? Will you be able to live with whatever decisions you make as a result of associating yourself with this word? Valve has dibs on “freedom,” and it shows with how loose they are when it comes to indie mods even the way their staff pick their projects.
Make that word your vision: Apple’s theme is the word “different.” Reaching down Apple’s history, the company has tried to make everything different from what is available on the market. It has manifested this theme through design, engineering, and primarily through ease of use. This is the reason why when Apple falters in an area customers moan (the famous antenna issue) . Let’s look at Coca-Cola. In my opinion, they’ve taken to “availability.” Unconsciously, you expect to see that red can in the refrigerator in any convenience store. When that iconic red can is missing you notice. Google has been able to supplant “speed” in the minds of people such that when a Google product comes by you just expect it to be quick and disappointed when it’s not. To a customer, Google has deviated from what Google should be. Themes elicit strong emotional responses in customers because of the clarity it provides. Live and breathe your company’s theme. GoPro has taken a liking to “adventure” by creating a camera that’s versatile and asking people film their crazy outdoor experiences.
Make that word into a conversation through actions: Sure you’re remarkable company right now and people are talking about you. Make it easier. Seth Godin reminds us to be ridiculous. Through “ridiculous” actions or superb products, it makes it easier for customers to tell their friends about you. They’ll make your company theme their choice word for interaction. That word or a variation of it will pop up in conversations. Let this word reflect in your entire business practice. For instance, people queue up at the bakery down the road because Ahmed makes his bread “important”. Everyone is greeted like he’s known them for ages. He takes Polaroid pictures of every new customer and displays it on the bakery’s wall with the customer’s signature. Even the bread packaging screams “important” with a different message every week. When people talk, they will talk about how important Ahmed makes them feel. Everybody wants a feel good experience hence more customers. Let us consider BufferApp. Their goal is to make posting to the internet “convenient”, their payment plan aims at convenience, and even their customer service strives to make the product a lot more convenient. This reviewer gets it’s about convenience off the bat.
About the Author
Ogaba Agbese is an architect in training, a poet. Founder and CEO of TreeJump, a nostalgia engine currently in the works.