“Sticky Branding” by Jeremy Miller
We reached the home stretch, the last two chapters, or Principles for that matter, of the book. They are about energy and where companies with Sticky Brands get their energy from. What is necessary to break through revenue plateaus. That Sticky Brands don’t accept the status quo. And last but not least, some words of encouragement and advice.
According to Miller, companies with Sticky Brands generate energy and motivation by setting big goals, goals that are guided by their purpose and values, what he calls aspirational goals. “When a goal is just about a number, it lacks the human element to drive action.” (page 181) People can engage with aspirational goals because they have meaning, they are tangible, and they lead to a different kind of behavior. They tend to foster confidence, resulting in proactive and more action-oriented behavior. “With the right goals you can shift your brand from being average to sticky.” (page 176) Miller gives a great example and I would be amiss not to mention it. It’s Steve Jobs’s pitch to convince John Sculley from Pepsi-Cola to join Apple: “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?” (page 176) You may not want to change the world, but the question remains: […] how is your company going to make a dent in the universe?” (page 176) What is your big goal that kicks your team into gear and keeps them so engaged that your customers will notice?
With such a motivated team you will inevitably grow, and so will your revenue. And that’s great. But many companies reach a certain revenue plateau and get stuck there. Miller explains why. Your team, your systems, and your approach need to change. What brought you to the current revenue level won’t be enough to get you to the next one. The most important step is, you guessed it, to determine your next big goal, a goal that has an immediate and tangible impact on your business. And then it’s all about building the infrastructure, designing the systems, and training your team to make it happen. It takes vigilance and continuous evaluation to understand what is needed, what has to change, what can be done better.
A great tool mentioned by Miller in this chapter is the SMART method. It’s an acronym and stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound. He uses some examples from the book to explain all five points. I found a great explanation on the Mind Tools website that goes into a lot of detail and explores it in a more general way. What I found very helpful on this website is the expansion of the acronym to SMARTER, the E and R standing for Evaluated and Reviewed. These two additions, Evaluate and Review, are emphasized by Miller throughout his book as being crucial. There are plenty of examples and word variations that may work better for your purposes, so feel free to choose the words that resonate with you. After all, “Big Goals [or goals in general] are only valuable if they drive action.”
Have you ever heard the saying: “If it ain’t broke, break it!” Usually it’s the opposite, but in the context of Sticky Brands it makes a lot more sense this way. According to Miller “the status quo is the enemy of a Sticky Brand.” (page 187) Because accepting the status quo would mean staying where you are, not asking what the next step will be. But that’s not how businesses strive anymore. Who would have thought at the beginning of 2020 that the world would change so drastically? How many businesses needed to pivot to keep their doors open? It only underlines what Miller says about his own experience. He had taken over the family business and struggled tremendously. More than once he asked himself if it was such a great idea to leave his lucrative corporate job. His breakthrough came because he changed direction and did something new. He had to learn that “What had worked for them (his parents) in the past was no longer applicable.” (page 191). It also led to the 12.5 Principles that we “discussed” over the past 12 weeks.
Wherever you are in your business endeavor, I’m sure you can find inspiration in Sticky Branding. Maybe you became curious and bought the book. I highly recommend it. I read it twice in short order to write my blog, and each time different aspects stood out. Here are some of my takeaways and likes:
- First of all, it’s an easy read.
- Clarity regarding purpose, goals, values…, you name it. Easy, right? Not necessarily. We are entrepreneurs for a reason, we have lots of ideas. Narrowing them down can be hard. But if we don’t, we run the risk of losing focus.
- And since I’m talking about focus: the author’s reminder of focusing on one aspect at a time. Too often we underestimate the amount of time and/or work it takes to finish a project. We take on far too much, resulting in burnout, feeling overwhelmed, and/or not making progress.
- The examples illustrating his thoughts and points.
- The Exercises at the end of each Principle, serving as starting points to get my creative juices flowing.
Even if you don’t aim to create your own Sticky Brand you’ll find a lot of thought-provoking questions and ideas, many of which won’t cost you a dime.
If you got hooked and decided a Sticky Brand is what you want to create, you have a great companion with lots of encouragement along the way. Just keep the book handy. “Growing a Sticky Brand is a way of life.”
And now it is your turn. What was your favorite Principle of the book? What inspired you to make some changes in your business? As always, comments are welcome!
See you next time,