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This Sentence Has 5ive Words.

Last Friday’s Kaizenblog Tweet Chat discussed Eigen Values, self-defining brands and the power of consistency. We had 52 contributors and over 500 tweets in what quickly became an avalanche of ideas and insights on what constitutes a brand that walks its own walk.

The transcript from the chat is here, but I want to isolate three ideas that came up in the hour long conversation for a closer look.

@Note_to_CMO – How many logos do we see that could be anyone’s?

Your logo is more than just a visual presentation of your brand. It should be a representation of your brand – regardless of whether it’s a bug or a type treatment. Presumably, your brand is unique enough for a customer to choose you over Brand X. So the single most visible element of your brand should be more than just different or eye-catching – it must represent your brand and define it in your absence.

So why are so many logos generic? Why, in the words of John Reddish (@GetResults), are logos, “often more a manifestation of an artist’s talent than a good selling tool”?  Indeed.

Logos, like all marketing outputs, should be self-definitions – and this isn’t necessarily easy. Neil O’Brien (@engageyourbrain) points out that, “The question is can ‘new’ logos identify what the core business is.”

This logo question was an early comment worth reflecting upon simply because it crystallizes an important point of Eigen Value marketing.

@chrissfife: @Note_to_CMO agree. consumers dont care about brands. They care about fulfilling their wants and needs.

It’s a basic fallacy of human nature to assume that everyone cares about you and your stuff. They don’t. They care about themselves and their stuff.

Your branding only comes it when it intersects with their needs, not yours. I know, this sounds terribly simple. But I assume you, once this conversation ends and we all go out in the world, 99% of the consumer-brand interactions we witness will fail this simple test.

Consumers are busy. The consumer profile you worked so hard to define matters only to you. To them, those prototypical consumers who you’ve identified as your perfect core market, you only matter for that split second every day when your solution applies to their needs.

You see a young, urban professional who is technologically savvy, socially networked, renting an apartment in a city on the east coast, generally left wing in politics and with a disposable income level roughly in a certain band.

They describe themselves as busy, stressed about their jobs, worried about their aging parents and concerned about money.

You think they’re perfect for your solution. They don’t really know who you are and aren’t preoccupied with the problem you solve; and if they are, they’re skeptical that you can do what you say you can.

Different views, same interaction.

Once we start viewing potential customers from this opposite angle, our language – and our mindset – changes.

@KnowledgeBishop – RE, disconnects … “Espoused-but-unlived” brands create cynicism, promise what they do not deliver. – Norm Smallwood

Brands that spout nothing but over the top hyperbole create distrust in that millisecond lifespan they have before they are erased in the minds of an otherwise busy market. Imagine having the longevity of a fruit fly and having that brief span taken up by nothing but the moral equivalent of an “eh.”

Consumers are smart. They see through fluff pretty quickly. They are looking for brands that are trying as hard as they are. This is a big point, because we don’t trust “perfect” brands. We acknowledge faults to a degree but we’re willing to work with brands that are working along side us.


Viewing your marketing through the disciplined lens of Eigen Values uncovers those customer touch points where we assumed everything would take care of itself – those same touch points are usually the ones where customer learn to dismiss us.

Once we define our “talk,” then we have to be able and willing to walk our walk. Logos, websites, customer service calls, even hiring practices – every potential touch point becomes either a reinforcement of everything we stand for or a diluting step.

Accept that our customers are busy and that they aren’t obsessed with our products as much as we hope they are. Understand that their busy-ness further reinforces our need to live our brands so that when they do turn to us, each touch point they’ve experienced – even the ones that they didn’t really notice when they happened – vividly come back to them and paint the very accurate and attractive picture of who you are and why you’re right.

And lastly, understand the risk we take when we approach this half-heartedly.

Thank you, Valeria and Elli – and all 52 commenters on Twitter – for making last Friday a memorable exchange!

If you’d like to read more on Eigen Values and marketing, please download my e-book by clicking on the icon to the right, entitled, “This Sentence Has 5ive Words: Eigen Values, Creating Truisms and the Future of Marketing.”

Please sign up for our new newsletter when you do – we’ll be discussing the “deep cuts” from interviews, those ideas that go beyond the blog posts and behind-the-beaded-curtain looks at new projects. Thanks!