Only-ness Principle from Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands by Marty Neumeier

Only-ness principle comes from Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands by Marty Neumeier

Only-ness statement reads like this: “Our brand (offering) is the only … (category) that … (benefit).”

The only-ness test

The only-ness test

Simple branding process to put it all together to position your brand well is to ask: WHAT is your category? HOW are you different? WHO are your customers? WHERE are they located? WHY are we important? And WHEN do they need us (underlying trend)? The only-ness statement provides a framework for your brand. Once you’ve defined your point of differentiation, you will have a decisional filter for all your company’s future decisions. By checking back against your statement you can quickly see whether any new decision will help or hurt, focus or clutter, purify or modify your brand. The brand positioning is about one simple, starting fundamental question: What makes you the “only”? Onlyness is the secret of brand’s positioning.

What: The only (category)
What: that (differentiation characteristics)
Who: for (customer)
Where: in (market geography)
Why: who (need state)
When: during (underlying trend)

Example: Harley Davidson is…

What: The only motorcycle manufacturer
How: that makes big, loud motorcycles
Who: for macho guys (and ‘macho wannabees’)
Where: mostly in the United States
Why: who want to join a gang of cowboys
When: in an era of decreasing personal freedom.

“Our brand is the only ………………..(put the name of the category) that ………………………. (put your key differentiator)”

When you compress your differentiator into a tiny statement, it’s much easier to see what you have and for what kind of audience to avoid the biggest problem in marketing ie the scattergun approach in marketing as defined in Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz. Watch out for ‘ands’ or commas – they tend to drain away your difference.


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