I was recently talking to an entrepreneur who has been running his startup for the last 4 years. One of his challenge was lack of differentiation in how his business was perceived.
Now go back and visualize the first time you heard about a device called iPad. If not for Apple, who else could have done that? If asked “Who do you think has built this device?”, would you have said ‘RIM, Nokia, Microsoft’?
Easier said than done, but that’s what a company soul [read: Entrepreneurs : Define What’s Non-Negotiable. Define a Soul.] is all about and biggest validation comes from your customers when they ask:
‘Is that You?’
That is, when people tend to relate you (you as in you : the product, the brand) with a certain product/feature (of course in the right sense) without even knowing who built it.
Now open all the ecommerce websites in India, hide their logos and tell us ‘which is which and who is who’. You will be surprised that half of these sites never cared to built that connect with the audience – they just focused on transactional aspect of a business and spent more time on ‘Facebook likes’ than an emotional like.
Similarly, a whole lot of companies/startups are getting lost in ‘we need to win the race’ and in the whole process, they are not focusing on “embedding” their soul in the product. In fact, there is nothing that comes out as a core differentiator. And while we are talking about differentiators, let’s not forget that even a bad/ugly looking site with great content or great product (think craiglist) stands out vs. several other mediocre yet good looking products.
Long story short, answer what aspect of your product would you prefer to be related with when somebody asks “Is That You”?
Are you prepared for this question?
*Title inspired by Pink Floyd’s Us and Them. Aside, another interesting read: How Pink Floyd Can Help Every Entrepreneur [Heroes for Ghosts?]