Building a story around more than one brand is tough.

Establishing multiple positions in the minds of prospects is tough. When you stand for something. When you have a cause. When you deliver unique results, or at least remarkable results, you want to call it something. One clear story, that explains the outcomes you achieve for your customers.

It’s noisy out there. Simplicity trumps complexity. Clarity is everything.

I believe for most enterprises in the sub-billion dollar revenue class, too many leadership teams move way too quickly, to a multi-brand strategy, before they have defined and dominated their special space. Here are a few examples of companies who have invested in one brand and built a powerful story around its values and the results each company achieves:

  • IBM
  • GE
  • Salesforce
  • Kronos
  • Nike
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Google
  • Cisco
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Starbucks
  • Ikea
  • Basecamp

The last one on the list is particularly relevant to the 99% of companies employing less than 500 employees. Basecamp was founded in 1999 as 37 signals, named after the 37 radio telescope signals identified by astronomer Paul Horowitz as potential messages from extraterrestrial intelligence. Through various changes of identity, the company focused on project management software and had huge hits with various products. The most famous was Basecamp. Why change the company name around one product and one brand? In February 2014, the company changed its name to Basecamp and Jason Fried, co-founder explained the reason as follows:

For our first 15 years we were called 37signals. We changed our name to Basecamp in 2014 to reflect our focus on our most popular product (coincidently named Basecamp). Basecamp is our best idea and our biggest winner. Over 15 million people have Basecamp accounts, and just last week another 6,622 companies signed up for new Basecamp accounts. Ten years into it, Basecamp keeps accelerating. We’ve had other big hits, but nothing quite like Basecamp.
When we meet people, and they ask us what we do, we say we work for 37signals. If they aren’t in the tech world, they’ll squint and say “what’s that?”. When we say “we’re the folks who make Basecamp”, their eyes light up and open wide. “Basecamp! Oh I love Basecamp! My wife uses Basecamp too! Even our church uses Basecamp!” We hear this kind of response over and over. People just love their Basecamp.

You see happy customers want to support your brand. You need to make it easier for them to pass on the message. Here are my top reasons why one brand is your most effective strategy (by the way it doesn’t stop you having different, memorable names for your family of products and services.

One Brand Benefits

  1. Core values are wrapped around one story
  2. Sends a cohesive message to your staff that they belong to a cause.
  3. Simplifies website narratives and allows marketing collateral to achieve a symbiotic relationship with sales scripts.
  4. One voice in the marketplace giving a clear and consistent message to prospects
  5. An effective message is sent to prospective candidates for jobs.
  6. Drives sales at the maximum velocity because prospects understand who you are.
  7. Product ideas can now be better curated because you can’t build everything.
  8. Who you are is what you measure. Data analytics can now be focused on the key metrics that are really building your business.
  9. More efficient use of marketing dollars.

Translating strategy into execution is the holy grail of effective management. It’s never easy. However it is easier when prospects, employees, prospective employees, customers, suppliers, and shareholders all get your story, and what your unique brand means for them.

Ian and his team continue to offer contract COOs and CFOs to private companies and C-suite executives to public companies with bandwidth issues. Reach out at