What Does What You Do, Do?

Issue 72

What a strangely worded little question for a business. But it's a good question.

It’s a good question because whilst most businesses can tell you what they do, few are good at telling you the actual results of what they do. And that’s a big problem. Why? Because customers don’t actually want what you do. They want what you do, does – for them. But it gets worse. Because even if we as businesses do focus on the results of what we do, we then have to communicate ‘what we do does’ in an engaging way. In an emotional way. We have to communicate ‘what we do does’ in a way that gets us noticed, remembered and chosen. And we have to sound different, too. Or we just blend in. When we communicate, we should ‘own’ our difference so that we sound like us and only us. Aaargh! Tricky. At Harlands we talk about this kind of thing with clients quite a bit. Because telling the right story, in the right way, increases a brand’s profitability. And that’s what Harlands look to do – one way or another – with all clients. Here’s how a few brands, brands that you already know, show that they understand the difference between what they do, and ‘what they do does’ – by storytelling the right thing. Storytell The Right Thing Lynx makes young guys smell nice. That’s what they do. But their most compelling and commercially impactful brand storytelling is, of course, around seduction. Because seduction is what they want us to believe they do, does. That’s the story their customers buy into – and buy. Persil laundry products are powerful cleaners and stain removers. Yet they storytell about warm and functional family units and, in particular, Persil position themselves as a token of maternal care. In recent years, there is not unsurprisingly a playing-down of mum as the sole user of the washing machine! There is, quite rightly, a blurring of maternal and paternal. But the parenting and care narrative remains. Because they continue to storytell around helping us present our kids and their clothing, better. Gillette is a brand driven by the delivery of supreme shaving technology. That’s what they do. Yet the focus of their storytelling is, of course, confident male grooming. Grooming that affects how a guy is perceived and therefore how he feels about himself. Improved confidence is what the Gillette brand is ‘for’, if you like. That’s what the consumer buys, so that’s the headline of the storytelling. And if BMW tried to woo us with stories relating to the spring rate of their suspension, or the padding, ergonomics and supportiveness of their bucket-seat frame and construction, everybody (except perhaps the technically geeky) would nod off! BMW does not headline with the practicalities relating to how they create a great driving experience. BMW headlines with ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’. They’ve been headlining that way for almost 50 years, since 1973. Focus On What You Do Does Lynx gets you the attention you crave. Persil facilitates better parenting. Gillette enhances male confidence. BMW delivers the ultimate driving experience. These brands know what their customers buy into – and buy. So as you can see, if your brand and marketing spend is helping me to understand what you ‘do’, that’s the functional benefit. And I’m not so interested in that. ‘What you do does’ is where it’s at. The psychological benefit – to me. That’s the story you should be telling. Now all you have to do is to find it – and tell it.

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