The Problem With Categories

Written By Melissa Slawsky  |  Branding  |  0 Comments

The problem with categories (beyond pouring old wine into new bottles from brand differentiation) - the way they're taught most is using demographics only.  Slice and dice what you do for a particular industry until someone else comes in and you're a commodity again.

For real staying power, you'll want to motivate your clients and customers by appealing to higher level needs (i.e., psychographics.)

The category approach misses the opportunity to tap into desires, motivations, fears, and strategies that already exist in the minds of your ideal clients and customers, leaving you with the arduous task of having to manufacture desire for your product or service. [or hoping your category just happens to fit their need.] 

  • Is your client motivated by independence or belonging?
  • Stability or mastery?
  • Achievement or exploration?

If you don't know this when you begin creating your category, good luck understand the buying behaviors, loyalty factors, and marketing likes and dislikes when it comes to selling and fulfilling your products and services.

I like a challenge, but this approach really creates an uphill battle... You might get some initial traction, but it may not be long before you have marketing efforts not panning out, difficulty maintaining product-market fit, increased churn, and it won't be long before you're worried about the competition. 

Fortunately, there's a SYSTEM for tapping into these core motivators.  The "algorithm" was designed by Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology.  This system is data-based, repeatable, and not-random.

Like the circle of fifths in music, there's a series of patterns ...

Not everything is going to sound good together.

And if you want to play together, you've got to know what key you're in.
(or prepare for friction, dissonance, and cacophony) 

This is how billion-dollar brands are built:

  • When you go to Starbucks, it's about "fuel for the journey"
    (Not coffee for mermaid and nautical fans)
  • When you buy an Apple product, it's about what you're going to create with it.
    (Not over-priced electronics for design evangelists)
  • Buying a luxury car is about increasing your status
  • And, buying a Harley is about breaking free from your  status quo.

So, if you're looking to create more value and impact with your brand and business, take 'category creation' with a grain of salt.

Whether you're talking about branding, positioning, or category creation - no matter what you do, make sure to address your ideal client's higher-level needs beyond the problems you solve or results you create.

[P.S. Being provocative in marketing might work for a pirate, that may not align with your brand values.]