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Finding your Business' Three Word Mantra


A senior leader at one of my previous gigs always used the term “crisp” when describing marketing materials, copy and directions. Specifically, things were often described as “not crisp enough.” We always used to joke about it. How exactly does one defi ne the “crispness” of a message? It’s subjective and vague.

At Tome, we recently sharpened our service offerings and I realized that it was time to update our mantra and company description. If nothing else, we needed a better response to the question, “What is Tome?”

This gave us an opportunity to build more business and clear up some confusion about exactly what we are doing. As is the case with most CTA members, tech changes mean that our product and service line evolves. I started thinking about the old hack of describing anything in three words. 

1. Make a Three-word Mantra to Describe your Business. 

Tome's mantra is: Where Owls Dare. The company's mascot is an owl.

You may want to use one of your three words to describe why your customers buy from you. Aside from the products or services you offer, the value proposition may be outside of this. For example, your clients may come to you because you are cheaper, faster or unparalleled experts. You can play up those differentiators by saying affordable, fast or experienced.

Also consider having your three words specify your location or region, product or service sector, product benefits, or the technology you offer.

At CES this year, one of my clients mentioned that while they hire teams of more than 150 people, they have a favorite vendor that has just seven employees; in fact, the best seven people in the world on a very specific topic. I imagine their three words to be something like “Seven [insert their super-specific tech field here] PhDs.” 

2. Ask Yourself: Could Competitors use your Three Words?

It’s normal to have a few direct competitors in your region that could also be a fit for your three words. It shows that your market is big enough and worth pursuing.

However, if there are 20 companies that could use those same three words, you should consider finding something more specific. 

3. Ask your Staff : Is this the Company Where they Want to Work? 

Another cool test is to take your three words back to your staff  and see if your own team can get behind them. Your three words may be accurate, but if it’s not sexy or exciting, you may need to ramp it up a bit. It’s your mantra. Just be careful to avoid being vague. It’s an art to nail it.

Who knows if my three words will ever be crisp enough for my old friend and mentor. But I always think of crispness as a continuous improvement process. 

Jake Sigal

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