The Brand Is the Blade

May 15, 2021

How do you kill the competition?

Create better products. Use design thinking. Develop with agile. Outspend them. Cultivate your culture.

You can do that.

But do you think that’s why Nike is legendary and Rebook is not?

Are those the things that made Harley-Davidson king?

Is that what propelled Zumba from a joke to a giant?

There is a fundamental difference.

Legendary brands don’t market—they emote.

Some brands sell an extrinsic, functional benefit. Weight loss. Shoes. Engines. Then there are brands that sell an intrinsic, experiential benefit.

These brands are about emotions. When you see the logo, what do you feel? What do you see, taste, and hear? Does it make your heart race? Are you flooded with peace?

Calm is a beautiful brand. It doesn’t sell guided meditation. It sells serenity.

Other meditation apps have frustrating pop-ups. Does that impart calm? Of course not. But the other brands don’t care about their customers’ emotions because they don’t sell emotions. They sell ads and subscriptions.

Six Flags can’t compete against Disney World. One sells rides. The other sells magic.

Apple sells simple delight.

Red Bull sells adrenaline.

Airbnb sells belonging.

Zumba sells freeing, electrifying joy.

We didn’t know that, at first. We thought we sold workout tapes through a cheesy  infomercial.

But one day I saw a woman in a Zumba class radiating joy in the middle of a sweating workout…and I realized she wasn’t there for the results. She was there for the feeling.

We had sold it by accident. Now, we sold it on purpose.

That’s how we crushed the competition.
We stopped selling a product.
We started selling an emotion.