Branding is Prioritizing

The fact is every product, every business, does lots of things. And no doubt we could conceive of a world in which advertising entailed listing all your features and functions and benefits and people could decide if your product was right for them. But there are a lot of products and brands vying for people's attention. Which means your product only has so much time, so much opportunity, to be heard. This is a question of knowing when and where to speak to people, a classic marketing question. And it's a question of knowing what to say, which is a question less of marketing per se than of branding.

The instinct of most business owners is to talk about everything their product does, all the features, possibilities, and benefits. It does this and this and this and this and will save you money, be reliable, high quality, with great customer support, too! Use it and you'll see! I know; I've been that business owner. After spending months and months on developing my product, after thinking about it day and night, dreaming about it, waking up in the night to scribble some revelation, it's hard not to want to show it all off.  

But people don't want to hear all that. They can't hear all that. They're inundated all day long with brands and products screaming at them, not to mention their bosses, spouses, friends, kids. It's your job, then, not just to make the right product, not just to approach people at the right time, but to know what you should say in the small window during which you have their attention. You don't have time to list everything. If your audience doesn't hear what it needs and wants to hear, it will tune out.

You need to know what to say first, what to hit home with, what to let linger. You need to prioritize.

It's not easy. Everything in you is screaming: But we're not just fast! We're also really, really smart! And, in the long run, we'll save you money and headache! Alas, you can't say all that — not at first, not all at once.

English, like most languages, is linear. Something — some word, some idea — must come first. So what do you say first? What's the lead idea? What is that idea and feeling and knowledge you want them to walk away with? Performance? Smarts? Friendliness? Safety? Value? Coolness?

This demands that you say No to many aspects of your product that you may love. So it goes. You can talk about it all you want once you have their attention. Then they're all ears, or at least some of them are. But if you try to speak really quickly to get it all in, to try and say it all at once, it's going to come out gobbledygook.

To brand is to prioritize.