Episode #08- The 3 W’s Part II

Lorenzo: Actually Wikipedia’s a great brand to talk about for the three W’s. I mean, everybody needed an encyclopedia, everyone needed a reference point, right? And it’s an encyclopedia. That’s what it is. Everybody needs it.

Bill: It sounded like.. An encyclopedia. I thought you said an insectopedia, like for insects.

Lorenzo: That’s right. It’s an insectopedia. Everybody needs that. So everybody needs a reference point. But why do you go to Wikipedia, and encyclopedia Britannica went out of business. Because with the power of open source internet, you just had more.

Bill: So I would say what is it, its an online encyclopedia. Why do i need it? because in one place, like an encyclopedia you just get this incredible almanac of just about any single thing, the facts and figures and knowledge in one place. That’s what encyclopedias do. Why do i buy it from you? Because you’re the biggest and best. You’ve got more people contributing. You got more articles. You’re the number one. There might be other ones but Wikipedia, they’re the guys that you can trust because we’re the first, we’re the best. So that’s why you go with them, because they’re the biggest and best. So this thing about what is it, why do i need it, why do I buy it from you. The three W’s. Remember those things, and go on and talk about them. The thing is you want to stand your messaging up to these kinds of tests. Sometimes, the fake branders, they either misinterpret some of the rules, some of the great rules, whether unintentionally, because I don’t know they even understand it, or intentionally, because they might be trying to get business where they deserve not to have it.

Lorenzo: I just think they’re spraying and praying.

Bill: Well, they’re trying to confuse and obfuscate so that they can get business. Hey, the only people who can unravel this amazing enigma of branding is us. You’ve got to hire experts.Can I just tell you one little story? So one of the things is why. What is it, why is it. My life was going along great. It really was. I had a happy life. And I was working for this big client. I mean, my life literally went to hell after this. But I had a very happy, wonderful life. And we were working on a brand and everything was going in the right direction. And then somebody in the marketing department there decided to post a link to a TED talk. 18 minutes of a TED Talk. A talk of TED. TED was talking. They decided to post this thing and said, “As we work on this brand and what this brand is going to mean, and all these wonderful things, I want everyone in the branding department and everyone in Rackspace to remember and to see that this is why we’re here and this is what we do. It’s called “Start with Why”. I’ve seen it. I could say “oh, you mean why I need it?” No, that’s not what why means. So I went to the TED Talk and I saw a guy named Simon Sinek. He’s very famous.

Lorenzo: But how can you not believe someone with a British accent. Everyone knows British people are smarter.

Bill: And full disclosure to all our people in Brand Brothers land. I watched the guy. The guy is engaging, he’s smart, he’s articulate, and he’s entertaining. He’s got a big business, he speaks everywhere, I’m not gonna knock him. Very smart guy. Okay?

Lorenzo: Dot dot dot…

Bill: But.. the great eraser… he does this speech, that unfortunately was viewed by millions and millions of young millenials. Young people who’ve never seen the great principles. And they show the camera as he’s making this speech, the camera is showing these little young men and women that are all trying to make it and come up and figure out what marketing is and they’re worshiping him with worshiping faces like they’re looking at Jesus! It’s like they’re looking at Jesus, like he’s up there! And he’s telling them that, “You know, in the old days, in the old brands, in old fashioned selling, this selling that’s dead, they talked about ‘what is it, it was all about your product’. But now, what really matters to customers, what really matters, is why. It’s the purpose that you have. It’s the reason that you did this. It’s what’s there, what are you trying to produce, what do you care about. It’s all really about the why. Ask about the why before the what.” and I’m going man, if this isn’t fake branding, I don’t know what is. Because here’s the thing, because i go back to Froelick. They have a  headache – they want it to go away.

Lorenzo: Well, you know the last time I was at Walgreens I stopped and asked “why did they create this? I can’t finalize this purchase until I know why!”

Bill: Right, or I bought a computer, and the computer lasted for exactly one day until it burst into flames in my luggage while it was going through the metal detector at the airport. It burst into flames, caused the metal detector to melt, caused a shutdown of the entire O’hare airport, and I was arrested and I not only missed my flight, I missed three years of my life trying to get out of jail. So that computer was a disaster, but you know something? The people that invented that computer believed in organic computing.

Lorenzo: They were sending the proceeds to Inuits, and the why is more important than your time in jail.

Bill: The reality is that people are busy. People are getting squeezed. People need solutions. People have health problems, they cant pay for their medical insurance, they’re not making enough money at work. They’ve got families. They’ve got issues. They want to succeed, and they need products that help them make their life better. It’s critical. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t have a what, which is what is it, and how does it help me, I’m sorry but I’m happy that you and your people care about organic farming, but i need my problem solved. Now if you solve my problem and I’ve only got five dollars to spend on this, if you solved my problem, then the why is great. But you don’t start with why, and if you think it’s where you start you’re kidding yourself. Where why matters is inside the company. When the leader might be trying to inspire his people. This is the mission we’re on. We’re trying to help the world and change the world. Then why is fantastic. But the why doesn’t matter first. It’s what is it and how does it help me. So they didn’t mean why I need it.

Lorenzo: So, one of the benefits of the Brand Brothers is we do live brand dissection from our studio. Live. We’re gonna break one down right now. Because I think one of the brands I think falls into this category of the start with why first is Toms shoes. I love Toms shoes. But if you look at Toms shoes, people mistakenly miscategorize it when in all reality it adheres to the three W’s. What is it? It’s a shoe. So right off the bat you need shoes or you don’t. Then you move to the second W which is why do I need it? Well, I need to wear shoes. So now I have options. So why do I buy it from you? And i think that even Toms shoes goes back to the human behaviors that you’re talking about which is hey, I want people to feel like i am a generous person, and so that’s the last W. Why do I need it from you, it’s because I’m fulfilling a desire I have which is I want people to feel like I’m generous, so every time I buy one they give one to a child in need.

Bill: And that’s important, people feel good about that. It contributes. And by the way, there’s no rule. Branding is an art as much as a science. So we’re talking about these rules, there are exceptions to every rule. There are brands that work in spite of everything we say, they just work. Let’s face it. But we’re giving you the principles that give you the highest probability that yours will work. Sometimes that why really is important to people.

Lorenzo: Well to me, what I love about Toms shoes is that it still adheres to the three Ws. Because it’s a company that is serving a need, right? And in the fashion industry there’s still the human needs, you’re still fulfilling one of the eight desires.

Bill: Well let me ask you this: are they comfortable shoes?

Lorenzo: They’re very comfortable, absolutely.

Bill: So they’re comfortable, durable shoes. So here’s the why- now this is another little principle about buying- people buy for an emotional reason, because you’re saving them from a pain, you’re doing something that’s emotional, you’re gonna make me sexier, that’s an emotional thing. I want to be richer, that’s an emotional thing to be richer. But, what they need is an intellectual reason why, a permission to buy. This is one of the most fundamental things we ever learned. So with Toms shoes, they’re choosing between shoes. What is it, why do I need it, is it a good comfortable shoe? I need shoes, and why do I buy it from you. And now I can say it’s permission to pick this one.

Lorenzo: And if it wasn’t comfortable even though their proceeds were going to a great cause.

Bill: And some people actually would, but its not most people.

Lorenzo: And so I think that the whole notion, that why is the only thing that matters is so misleading, and that’s why we’re righting that wrong.

Bill: So the thing is when you say why, why do i need it, that’s critical. But when you say the reason I buy is because I’m thinking of the company and why they felt like they wanted to do this thing, that’s not why I buy light bulbs. That’s not why I go to a restaurant. If I go to a restaurant and I have a crappy meal, I don’t care if you gave all your money to homeless kids and I don’t care that the chef is really passionate about food. And they’ll tell you on the menu we’re passionate about food. I don’t care about your passion I care about, first of all, is your food good? If the food is good, I’ll appreciate your passion. So that why thing, that was Simon Sinek, look pal. You’re not getting this right. But again, inside the company, because we say everybody wants to be on an inspiring mission.

Lorenzo: But that’s a future episode. It’s a great principle.

Bill: Everybody wants to be inside a company, they want to be a valued member on a winning team on an inspiring mission.

Lorenzo: That’s how you rally the troops.

Bill: That’s how you lead, right. And the inspiring mission, that’s why do we do this. Why do we bring fanatical support to our customers, but let’s just get this right.

Lorenzo: I mean, I think that to the employee, it’s the reason I get up in the morning. I still can’t explain managed hosting to my mother, and furthermore its really boring stuff. But I’ll get up to be one of the worlds greatest service companies. That’s a why i can get behind. But the customers didn’t care about fanatical support, it was the benefit. It was the reason they chose us over everyone else, because they were in pain. They didn’t care about the why, what they cared about was their company. Their business.

Bill: We’re trying to sell something to people. Again, people don’t have the luxury. When you make a buying decision you make a risk. That’s why you have resistance. Buying resistance is “I like it, I like it, I like it, it’s good, but i’m still afraid to buy it.” Why are you afraid to buy it? Because I only have ten dollars, and if i make a mistake I don’t have another ten dollars. Or, I only have this much in my budget and if it fails my boss is going to fire me. The thing is, there’s always a risk in making a choice, and you have to overcome the buyer’s risk.

Lorenzo: To that point about getting fired, one of the greatest lines I ever heard was “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.”

Bill: Yeah, that’s right, because it was the safe choice.

Lorenzo: Because it was the safe choice, you know they’re going to deliver all the W’s.

Bill: It’s not that people are crass and people are materialistic, that’s not what it is, it’s just that they have a problem. They have a headache and they need it to go away. And in the end, if you solve their problem and you get results, they have a family that they need to feed and they need to get them the best organic, healthy food they can get. Or I’ve got some kind of condition that I need to solve, or whatever the heck that it is. I need those problems solved and I don’t have time to make mistakes. This is the what is it, why do I need it.

Lorenzo: So, back to our story about the company. Did they go off track? Did you have to get back in there and wrangle them back into brand submission?

Bill: We got pretty… we got as far as we could get. We led them to the promised land, you know, like Moses. I mean, I don’t like to liken myself to biblical figures, but ehh, in this case, like Moses. We were standing at the gates of the promised land. We had Moses, we had Jesus, we had Buddha, we had everybody, looking down at the promised land, and that’s as far as we got, and then the god of branding said, “Okay, now you’ve got to step back and allow them to go forward”.

Lorenzo: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

Bill: That’s right, that’s right. But it was a great thing. But anyway, we talked about the three W’s, these are the kinds of questions, it’s all about the kinds of questions you ask, and the little tests you make your brand stand up to. Does it fit the three W’s? Are we answering the three questions? Is our dominant selling idea superlative? Are we the best at something? Do people believe it coming from us?

Lorenzo: The three W’s, especially when I watch you do the three Ws, it’s almost like the first time you go to your checkup at the doctor, they walk in and they start asking you the basics. Or, you start playing detective. You look at your brand. When a marketing department is done well, you have objective parties that can ask these questions, very liberally, and there’s no sacred cows, and you start getting to the real answers. Because every company a lot of times, the forces of mediocrity are going to try to drag you away from the principles into doing everything for everyone, or trying to sell something that’s so watered down that it has no differentiation, because we’ve seen companies that they don’t want to take risks.

Bill: When you make a choice, you’re taking a risk.

Lorenzo: And they say, “Oh what is legal gonna say about that?” And so, when you adhere to the three W’s, you will start drilling down into what your product is that makes it special.

Bill: That’s why everything we do is really in the service of finding that simple heart, the heart of the matter, the core, the center of everything, that’s what we do when we do branding. It’s kind of the universal theory of everything, but that’s another thing we’re gonna get into. You know, when I heard that and I saw the Simon Sinek speech, I was actually, I ended up in the fetal position.

Lorenzo: For days.

Bill: It was the closest thing to rigor mortis you can get, they couldn’t unbend me i was so traumatized. It was hard to get on the plane. It’s hard to walk in the fetal position! You ever tried to walk in the fetal position? You ever tried to go through the drive through at Dunkin Donuts in the fetal position?

Lorenzo: I’ll tell you, maybe we’ve just misunderstood his TED talk. So we’ll give him a standing invitation to come on the brand brothers.

Bill: We would, sure. But what happened was, the only thing I could do is I wrote an essay, and that’s when we talked about the differentiators vs the image makers.

Lorenzo: My favorite blog post.

Bill: Well, it’s a blog post, the one and only, but we said that the great branders were the differentiators, the ones who found the difference, and the image makers were the ones that said all that we want to do is make you laugh or want to cry, but they didn’t care about make you want to buy. But the difference makers say, “Look, we can’t give you any more emotions than you already have, so we’re going to take a dramatic difference, and make it so dramatic that when you think about having it, and you connect it to your life, your life will give you emotional situations that are so much more powerful and customize it to yourself in a much more powerful way than anybody that’s telling you you should feel emotional about something. We’re gonna show you that you can get 10000 songs in your pocket, or we’re gonna show you that this thing will give you 3 more years to live on cancer, or we’re gonna show you that we have this magic thing where we can fix your teeth and you can have a beautiful smile again. So, I wrote this little essay, and it was “What’s a selling brand?”, and it said the selling brand is not about producing emotions for their own sake, because you can millions of page views or awareness just by itself, but after all, you can get 10 million page views of a bear in a tutu dancing on your house, but no one wants to buy your house. So, with a selling brand, once you have someone’s attention, you have to pull them into the ranks of the persuaded by making them this proposition which is really the three W’s. That’s what you do, you give them that what, why, and where, and then you have to put it into the microscripts and the kind of language we’re gonna tell you about. The differentiators make the product the star. Here’s just a little example. That’s why when apple produced the iPod for the first time, they didn’t remind you of how joyful music was. Everybody knew! They gave you a startling, revolutionary fact. They said it’s like having 10000 songs in your pocket. Now, if I told someone that, and then I showed them on the screen, believe me, it’s so exciting and thrilling and dramatic, I don’t need you to show me how wonderful it is.

Lorenzo: But also, to the three W’s, the generation of mp3 player before the ipod was so complicated, it had a million buttons on it, I think people think that the dramatic difference was that it was sleek and sexy. It was that, but it was simple. It was simple to navigate, which was actually the big differentiator.

Bill: I know there were, but they hadn’t caught on yet. So this is the one that all of a sudden took off like crazy, and I’m sure that’s a huge part of it. But again, they reminded people. They showed you this beautiful, elegant design and they said, “Look, hold it in the palm of your hand. it’s 10000 songs right there”, it blows you away. So when they had the first 747, they called it the jumbo jet, and all they had to say, “Now you can take 450 passengers from Japan to New York nonstop.” And believe me, the airlines, you didn’t need to tell them the passion that you had for aviation, you just showed them this amazing thing and then they gave you the emotion. When Netflix appeared on the scene they told you the facts of the difference. They said it was videos in the mail, not videos in the store. Suddenly, there was no more late fees. No more being told that the hits you wanted were not in the store. This is the” what” part. And when Chobani yogurt came out, Chobani had one of the best microscripts. This is what everybody said, “It’s yogurt, but it’s twice the protein and half the fat.”

Lorenzo: There it is. There’s the what is it, why do I need it, and why do I buy it from you. These were little tiny companies!

Bill: This is part of what we’re talking about here today is that these principles, and we’re gonna keep talking and reminding you about the principles all the time.

Lorenzo: So that’s the three W’s. We will come back. We’re gonna dive into some amazing things like category marketing and facts of the difference, and naming and all kinds of goodies.

Bill: Naming is my favorite subject

Lorenzo: I can’t wait to do categories, I’m gonna be a pig in shit rolling around.

Bill: Can we… can we say pig? Can we say shit? I don’t know if we can say that. Well, see, this is all the stuff that if they didn’t edit it out, because we said it, and our editor forgot, and you get to hear the dirty word. Only on the brand brothers.

Lorenzo: Tune in next time.

Bill: We’re gonna have all these things, but we’re not going to make it too overwhelming. And we’re going to remind you that all of this stuff is on the books we wrote.

Lorenzo: Absolutely, go pick up your copy of Why Johnny Can’t brand, and the Microscript Rules.

Bill: And, if you want to laugh about some grocery stuff, then the Cilantro diaries.Well, if you want to succeed in life, go get the Cilantro diaries.

Lorenzo: Tune in next time, thank you for stopping by.

Bill: And just remember, we’re on a mission from god to make branding great again.

Lorenzo: Oh do we have a takeaway of the day?

Bill: Just remember that branding, successful branding is more about the questions that you ask than the answers you get. You come up with the great answers, but the number one thing to think about is the great questions that lead to those answers. And the three classics for your messaging is the three W’s: What is it, why do I need it, and why do I buy it from you.