I had a meeting with a client who was having quite a difficult time pulling together a simple way of saying all of the things she does. This is a person who consults with other businesses and works with them on a wide range of people issues and there isn’t one specific problem that she deals with. They all relate to the concept of “culture” and “leadership”. In short, she works with organizations when people can’t play nice together.
This can be a huge problem for some organizations, especially if they are going through growing pains or have some kind of transformation to enable. People issues can get in the way of that progress. But the solution to these problems can be any number of things from coaching specific leaders, to providing training, to building new workflows, and on and on. What she was challenged with was picking one specific pain point and one solution to build a tagline for.
Brand The Problem
As we were discussing, I had one of my instantaneous flashes of insight and said “instead of trying to brand the solution, how about we brand the problem?” and I came up with a phrase that perfectly described the problem that organizations run into that was broad enough to be addressed by what she solves while still being interesting. I won’t share that with you yet – I may update this post once her branding is public, but this approach instantly solved her problem.
It was also similar to a conversation with another client the day before – similar situation, similar challenge. The solution was difficult to articulate, but the problem was easy to brand. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had stumbled on a pretty powerful way of helping a client get attention for themselves. The reason why this works is that by spinning the problem in a unique way, it creates a hook that makes it easy to get potential clients curious. They can see themselves in the problem and are now interested in hearing more about how that problem affects them, and how it can be solved.
The culture client in fact is going to be reshaping how her website is architected, instead of focusing on “who she is” and “what she does”, she’ll now be starting with “What the problem is” and “how it affects” the client, then moving into “how she solves it” and “who she is”.
Drug Companies and Politicians are Experts at Branding the Problem
This approach existed long before I had this insight of course. Drug companies are masters of branding the problem before the solution. “Restless arm syndrome keeping you from typing your best? Try Relaxoflex!” This article here has a great story about how the current term “BO or Body Odor, was just such an attempt at branding the problem. And politicians have a field day manipulating us with “branded problems.”
Works to Crystallize Customer’s Pain
Branding the problem works exceptionally well when your buyer has trouble articulating what their problem is or if they don’t happen to be aware of the problem that they are having. Branding a problem has the effect of crystallizing someone’s awareness around an area of pain that they may have been experiencing but didn’t have the awareness or insight to describe exactly what they were going through. By crystallizing someone’s awareness, they take another step up the problem solving ladder, which moves them closer to taking action and potentially buying a solution to fix the problem. It also makes it easier for the “problem” to spread virally. It becomes easier to talk about. (“John, you have BO and you should do something about it”) The potential “market” for a solution expands with that awareness.
So if you find that you are having trouble branding your solution – try defining and branding the problem first.