How are you different?

Peter Thiel famously said that there only two types of businesses: commodity businesses trying to convince the world that they are unique and monopoly businesses try to convince the world that they are not. Global software businesses like Facebook take advantage of the law of networks to create natural monopolies for themselves, but most businesses don't have that luxury.

As a professional services firm with no natural monopoly, it falls to us to explain how we are different. It's an important question because our newer clients genuinely want to know what it will be like to work with us, before they begin.

So here are some initial thoughts, for those of you who are curious to learn what it will be like to work with us.

  1. We have an operational mindset. Which means this: when you work with us we are trying to help you build a valuable asset (your brand) not just craft stories about it. In our view, storytelling is just one part of creating a valuable brand.

  2. We are realists: Creative people are good at coming up with exciting words, visuals and notions. The value of these is limited by a company's ability to turn those notions into something tangible for customers. We spend a lot of time ensuring that our creative energies are focused in directions that will deliver tangible improvements to the customer experience.

  3. We are systems thinkers: We don't think in the "marketing bubble" or the "graphic design bubble". Engineers know that when you optimize for one part of a system, you skew, and undermine the system as a whole. To avoid this trap we think about, and work on, the whole. This is hard work, it forces us to embrace many disciplines that exist outside of "traditional" branding-firm competencies.

  4. We execute. The only way to be sure that your strategy partner is giving you something of value is if they can also be your partner when it comes time to execute. The biggest flaw in the industry that we want to address is the dilemma of too many strategists who don't execute and too many execution partners who are not strategic. It's a divide that has to be bridged, and we bridge it.

  5. We deliver brands that deliver. That's it. It's a simple purpose, but one that's surprisingly rare in the industry. This does not happen becuase people try-and-fail, but becuase they usually don't adequately define their work in terms of delivering something complete and tangible in the first place; it's seen as less risky, after all, if you're not on the hook for the ultimate outcome.