The Sound of Business - Part I I

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Creating a ‘kick ass’ Sonic Personality© for your business requires that your business have a personality in the first place. Of course every business has one, whether you are aware of it or not, and this is a real danger. Your customers’ understanding of who you are, and what you do, as a business, may be very different from the vision you have of yourself. This can be a very serious problem for owner-managed businesses, where the personality of the entrepreneur oft times gets substituted for the personality of the business - big mistake! So what's the first step in crafting a marketable business personality?

What Business Are you Really In?

OK kids, its story time. Back in the day, the railroad barons were the most powerful business leaders in the country. They had the money, the power, and the political ‘shlep’ (that’s drag for the uninitiated) to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Today railroads are a depressed industry. So what happened? Simple, they didn't know what business they were really in.

If you could have asked Leland Stanford or Collis P. Huntington, what business they were in, they would have most likely answered, ‘the railroad business’. And in the long run, that was their downfall. Instead, they should have thought of themselves as being in ‘the transportation business’ and if they did, they surely would have used their money, power, and influence to control the emerging automobile, trucking, and airline industries.

Before you can craft a Sonic Personality© you first must understand who you are, what you do, and why you do it better than the other guy. If you can answer those three questions clearly, then you have the beginning of a coherent business personality that must exist before you can have a Sonic Personality©.

Focus On One Core Value

One of the hardest things for entrepreneurial businesses to do is to focus on one core value. This may sound, on the surface, to be contrary to the lesson learned from the railroad barons, but it isn't. Your core value focus has to be broad enough to be able to sustain your business through the onslaught of competition and fast moving technological change. When the railroad barons focused on just one form of transportation they let all the other transportation opportunities slip through their fingers and ultimately overtake them.

Most accountants and bankers will tell you to ‘stick to your knitting’ and not let yourself be spread too thin with secondary initiatives. This is generally good advice, however there is a fundamental difference between going off on a tangent and sticking to your core values. Knowing who you are, what you do, and why you do it better than the competition will help you keep your focus while at the same time allow you to critically determine whether new opportunities are ones that you should pursue.

Create Definition: Lift and Separate

So far I have managed to avoid using the term, brand, because it is generally misunderstood and ignored by most owner-managed businesses. Substituting ‘personality’ for ‘brand’ puts the notion of brand in context. Think about it. You may have thought your business doesn't relate to branding concepts, but you've accepted, or at least are intrigued by the idea, that your business needs a clearly defined personality.

Al Ries and Jack Trout have written numerous books on branding and marketing, including ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. " One of the lessons to be learned from this book is ‘The Law of Opposites’. Simply stated, unless you’re the ‘top dog’ in your industry, you have to define who you are in contrast to the industry leader. This is not dissimilar to The Theory of Contrary Thinking.

The example sometimes used to explain The Theory of Contrary Thinking is Tulip Mania. When tulips were first introduced to Holland in the middle to late sixteenth century, people fell in love with them. By the early 1600s, an exchange market had been created that dealt with tulip futures. Similar to what happen in the Roaring 20s, everyone got involved in purchasing tulip futures for ridiculous prices, until some wise guy yelled SELL! Panic set-in and like in the 1920s, the market collapsed. The moral of the story is simple; if everyone is doing it, you better do the opposite.

By defining your business in contrast to the industry leader, you create a separate and distinct business personality that gives your audience an alternative to the ‘big guy’. You no longer are a second banana ‘wannbe’ imitator, but rather a distinctive company with your own image, strengths, advantages and of course, personality.

Customers Are An Audience

Finally, this distinctive personality needs to be communicated to your audience, and you'll notice I've called your customers an audience, because that is exactly what they are. If you think in terms of audience, it will open up a whole new understanding of communication techniques and media, that will lead to better audience recognition, acceptance, and ultimately sales. Now we have to give your finely crafted personality a voice. Tune-in next time for ‘How to Give Good Sonic Personality©. '

Jerry Bader, is a partner in MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in creating multimedia websites that enhance their clients business opportunities by delivering their marketing messages using the latest audio, video, Flash, and interactive techniques.

MRPwebmedia developed the Sonic Personalities© concept that effectively conveys your brand, image and message on websites and DVD/CD presentations using custom-crafted voice-overs.

For more information and sample sites visit or contact Jerry Bader at (905) 764-1246.


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