Brands are really just a big pile of Legos waiting to be put together into something great. Some brands have more or bigger pieces, better or worse pieces, missing pieces or worse — a few of those slightly chewed-on pieces that are screwed up, but never find their way out of the bin. However, a strong brand builder understands the larger vision of what they want to make. Go back to your childhood for 10 minutes and you’ll understand how to beat that kid that has more and better pieces. Because, in the end, it’s really not about the blocks at all.
Stop selling pieces, start selling the vision
You have great pieces … we get it. But great pieces don’t sell products. Amazing creations do. Thousands of brands focus solely on positioning the features or functionality of their brand—the individual pieces that make up a greater promise of value. Apple doesn’t advertise the technology behind its products, it tells you how they’re going to solve your problems.
Building block: Your audience loves that the robot has articulating arms—they don’t care about the gears.
Simplify your creation so customers understand it
Nobody cares that your brand has 17 million parts, and very few want to know (much less understand) how they work together. Even if your product is the most complicated thing in the world, it should end up looking like a cohesive idea. I’ve seen people make ridiculously cool things with four block pieces, and I’ve seen people make Lego sculptures so cohesive, they don’t look like blocks at all. Your brand can do this, too.
Building block: Complicated brands often fall apart in the minds of consumers of time-strapped consumers.
Differentiate even if you’re building with the same pieces
We’ve all been there. Your friend starts with the same pile of bricks as you and builds the Taj Mahal, while you’re left looking down at your perfectly mediocre school house. Similarly, brands start with commoditized products made up of similar ingredients. Your branding team is responsible for taking your blocks and coming up with something more than just better, but different. Lululemon, for example, sells workout gear similar to many competitors, but by turning the brand into something aspirational, the company is able to get away with selling $98 leggings whose name everyone recognizes.
Building block: Great brand teams turn the same blocks into something magical using strategy and creativity.
Throw away damaged pieces and set aside unneeded ones
All brands have baggage, whether they’re missing pieces or have excess pieces that don’t fit the story. It only becomes a big deal when you are trying to build a truck without wheels or adding that fantastic front door to your submarine because you invested so much in it. Unless the weird pieces are creating a differentiating story of value—e.g., the waterproof door promising the most accessible submarine in the world—get rid of them.
Building block: Strong brands chuck the broken pieces and set aside great ones that don’t fit the vision for a particular product, service or solution.
The bottom line? The pieces of a brand are complicated. Everyone has them. Some don’t fit great. They might hurt to step on. Your brand may be made up of pieces, but your audience is buying a finished promise of value. That why even basic Lego sets show you what you can build out of them right on the front of the packaging. And the reality is that once the box is torn up, what will be created from it will vary across each audience member.