17 Comments
Aug 30, 2021Liked by Category Pirates 🏴‍☠️

Agree with all of this! But I do have a confession to make, and I hope it doesn't get me banned from the CP mailing. My name is Dave, and I am a brand management consultant 😱😱😱.

Let me first defend myself. The very point of my company is to re-brand “brand”. That is to say a brand is NOT a logo (seared into flesh or otherwise), it is an earned reputation based upon the true value of your offer, the way in which that value is conveyed, and the greater good giveback of your company (aka social responsibility). I spend most of my time in this role working on clients' reputations based upon these 3 tenets. Unwittingly I was delighted and found some vindication, in my work, when I read “Play Bigger”. But category design helped put an over-arching framework around the way I think, and attempt to educate and advise in the world of brand. I have used the book A LOT and passed it along to multiple clients.

I love this platform by the way. Thank you Christopher, team and wise members of this exciting new community!

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Dave, you're good with us! We appreciate you engaging in the dialogue and thinking about thinking! We love legendary brands and legendary " brand management consultants"... Cool brands are cool! We've "re-branded" and branded, as part of a new category lightning strike, as part of a POV update, as part of a massive new product launch (we always lead product launches with a POV to set the context for the product to win). When branding is done strategically, to proclaim category leadership, in support of a category design, or to crush some competition, it is legendary! When it's "make the logo BIGGER".... that's a whole other story! Stay legendary and pirate on, christopher 👊🏴‍☠️

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Aug 30, 2021Liked by Category Pirates 🏴‍☠️

Really enjoyed that. This is not a criticism (quite the opposite) but you have made a “category” for yourself by simply redefining or re-articulating the basic principle of marketing - find out what your customer wants or needs (they may not know they need it) and give it to them. This of course comes before branding, sales, advertising etc. In a busier world, with decades of modern marketing behind us, it’s time to add some new perspective on marketing thinking. And what you are doing with “category” is a great example of how finely niched a category can be within a an existing broad market or topic. Love it.

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You caught us Mike!!! ... 👆 We realized yrs ago that both "Marketing" and "Positioning" had become massively devalued. The Marketing Department at way too many companies sits at the kids table. (in part because Marketing leaders lack the laungaging to explain their strategic value... which is very ironic...) And even in companies that do value marketing, they often look at it tactically to drive near-term sales (Don't get us wrong, we LOVE near term sales, but as you know, when Marketing is used strategically AND tactically, it becomes paramount near-mid-and-long term).... So yes, we came to the conclusion yrs ago that the Marketing and Positioning categories were broken. Thus it was time for a new management Discipline called Category Design.... AND if you want to get even more meta about it (take a pull on some whisky or rum).... we're practice Category Design in real time, to create the category of Category Design. How often do you experience a teacher who is teaching AND doing the thing they are teach.... at the same time. Play Bigger came out 5 years ago. It takes 6-10 years for a category to tip. Category Design as a category started tipping early. That's why you hear so much about it now. 5 years ago, almost no one was talking about this stuff.... all that said, thanks for being on the pirate ship with us.... and feel free to invite friends ARRRRRRRR!

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Spot on Long John!

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The only way to explain category design is to first create a new category within which to frame the conversation! You're exactly right, and that is our intention. ARRRRRR!

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Great take Mike...don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time (wasting it mostly) trying to educate students and clients that marketing is NOT messaging...it is about discovering and delivering value. Period.

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Aug 27, 2021Liked by Category Pirates 🏴‍☠️

Great newsletter. Keep em coming. I’d love to see more content for some of us Small E entrepreneurs. Also, looking forward to reading about how we use the strategies in different mediums such as newsletters, blogs, podcast, etc.

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Thanks for reading. Will do IRON Mike! 🏴‍☠️

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Sep 7, 2021Liked by Category Pirates 🏴‍☠️

I truly enjoyed reading this article! - it's well written, witty, simple yet captivating with the intent understood!

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Category Pirates 🏴‍☠️

I think this is the best marketing discourse I've ever read. So differentiated! Good effing job! 👊

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So glad you enjoyed it, Nazar. Share it with a friend (who is in the brand cult!).

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Aug 28, 2021Liked by Category Pirates 🏴‍☠️

Phenomenal, as usual. Already mentally redesigning my website thanks to this. I clearly need to put my equivalent of DENTIST above the fold.

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That's right! Glad to see you're taking IMMEDIATE action. ARRRRRRR!

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In the B2B world, C3.ai is an interesting case study in category-level brand marketing. "Enterprise AI" is the headline of all their marketing and advertising -- it's so abstract and meaningless – no one needs AI, they need to solve problems and sure maybe AI is a way to solve it. But this category level messaging makes things so simple: if you're thinking about artificial intelligence, you should talk to C3.ai

And I think their approach follows with your main point here. C3 could be a "big data" or "analytics" or some other existing category company, but instead they're making "enterprise ai" it's own category

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I agree with your content, but have one query. For heavily commoditized category such as Body Utilities, I think branding is a necessary play. It's directly related to how much share of your customer you own.

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Very valuable read with much food for thought. One thing we must be mindful of - Sometimes, we can only connect the pieces looking backwards. Many categories are made through 'happy accidents and the willingness to adapt.' (and the market will determine which become a success, and which die out quickly.)

While it's worth trying to engineer this, there will be many external factors which can affect results - as well as internal factors required to make a big enough splash and 'dent' in the market, (e.g., budget, tolerance to risk, willingness to stand out and stand up to scrutiny, etc.)

There's so much disagreement over what branding is... Maybe it's worth throwing out the window and coming up with something new...

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