The Power of A Single Word

There’s a lot to like about what I do, but the branding workshops I teach for small businesses and women entrepreneurs are at the top of the list.

Yes, I work with big companies and institutions, too, but these small, highly interactive, hands-on seminars are a way to pay all of the good fortune I’ve had in my professional life forward. In most cases, these are folks who don’t have much, if anything, budgeted for marketing but know that it is a must-have.

Recently, I taught a Branding for Small Business webinar for the Connecticut Women’s Business Development Council, an organization funded by the SBA. I’m always struck by the fact that whether you are a fledgling business, a Fortune 500 company, or looking for a job, the marketing foundation is the same.

  • Who are you? (story)
  • What do you stand for? (mission)
  • Who are you talking to? (target customer)
  • Why should I care? (problem/solution)

Think FedEx.

  • A global shipping company (story)
  • Overnight delivery (mission)
  • Companies and people who need stuff delivered fast (audience)
  • “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” (value/problem solved)

Global giants like FedEx, Volvo, Proctor & Gamble, etc., spend billions creating, defining and sustaining their brands.

Take Volvo, for instance.

What’s the one word that comes to mind?


Is Volvo really any “safer” than other cars in its class? Probably not. But they’re targeting suburban soccer Moms who want a safe car.

Safety. That’s what Volvo is selling. The car is just a means to an end.

Small businesses are no different. Neither are colleges, universities, nonprofits, or job hunters. It all comes down to brand. If you don’t tell people who you are and what you stand for, they’ll make it up. And that’s never a good strategy.

So, what one word are you?