What Words Do You Own?

June 29, 2015 1:22 pm Published by

What-words-do-you-own?Can anyone really “own” a word? Maybe not in the most literal sense of the definition of ownership, but in the world of business, there are companies that own words or phrases. By that, I mean that they are the first (and maybe the only) company you think of when you hear a certain word or phrase.

Here are a few examples:

  • Just Do It
  • Ultimate Driving Machine
  • Safe (automotive industry)
  • Tax Preparation

If you immediately thought of Nike, BMW, Volvo, and H&R Block you’re not alone. That’s what most of us think. Some may say that these particular companies have simply done a good job of branding themselves. While that’s undeniably true, there’s more to the story. They have earned that word (or phrase) association. They have focused their attention on certain things and they have done them well.

Are these companies the absolute best in their respective fields? That’s probably arguable. But there is no mistaking what they do. Those companies own those words.

Too many businesses try to be all things to all people. It doesn’t work. They end up being known for nothing. Business enabler (that’s my phrase, not his) Chris Brogan uses the illustration of a white truck. “If you buy a white truck,” he writes, “you CAN do pretty much anything with it. You could be a landscaper. You could haul stuff. You could help people move. You could start a logistics and delivery organization. Whatever. There are LOTS of ways to use a white truck.”

His point is that nobody knows what it is you do if you drive around in a white truck. (By the way, you can read more of his insightful thoughts here).

The point is; if you don’t stand for something in the marketplace, you may stand for nothing. What is it that you do that you want people to think about? What word or phrase do you want people to associate with your business? What is it that you can do better or faster or with better results than anyone else?

Success in business isn’t about being all things to all people. It’s about being THE company people think about first to solve their specific problems or needs. Figure out what that is and go own that word or phrase!

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This post was written by Chuck Kocher