Do you know what an Eigen Value is?
“This sentence has five words.” That’s an Eigen Value. A self-defining entity, something unarguable. A truism.
When you say something like, “This sentence has lots and lots of words and syllables,” that’s not an Eigen Value. We could debate whether this is true or false and it really depends on your personal opinion.
This difference matters a lot for a simple reason: When we create Eigen Values, we’re creating things our customers immediately identify with us.
Every touch point with a prospective customer becomes a moment of power where we can remind them why we’re relevant. This is more than just garden variety consistency. It requires we systematically look at things from our perspective as well as from theirs and constantly adjust and refine.
Look at Method, competing in the detergent space against giants, such as P&G and Clorox. Method’s hiring practices focus on group interviews where you present a tactical idea, a strategic idea and a way to “keep Method weird.” They’re a San Francisco brand that looks more like an ad agency than a soap manufacturer, but there’s more to it than that. Method needs to be “weird”—it needs to keep itself on the edge to ensure it doesn’t fall into staid and conservative thinking. Look at its competition. Method’s HR practices are Eigen Values.
Look at Vibram and its incredible Five Fingers running shoe. Five “fingers” for your toes means you’re essentially running the way you would if you were barefoot. No more heel striking—and no more repetitive knee injuries, either. Vibram is a shoe sole company. Who else could possibly launch a shoe like the Five Fingers? Vibram’s product development is an Eigen Value.
Look at JetBlue and its “All You Can Jet Pass.” Here’s a company so confident in its customer experience that, according to CMO Marty St. George, its best marketing vehicle is an empty seat. JetBlue uses promotional pricing in a quirky, off-beat way to ensure people say, “That could only come from Jet Blue.” It knows that once a customer flies with it, the customer will fly with JetBlue again. Jet Blue’s pricing strategy is an Eigen Value.
When you look at everything your brand does through this Eigen Value lens, it changes how you do things. No more “check the box” activities. No more “the rest will take care of itself” attitudes. No more “your call is important to us” customer communications. Everything counts because everything is a truism—it’s identical to your core brand attributes.
Why is all of this important?
- You have limited resources. Time and money are tighter than they were a while ago, if you’re like most people. We need every dollar to count. Ensuring that every possible touch point is working for you and not being wasted is critical.
- Your customers are busy. They have bigger worries than figuring out whether you matter to them. Make it easy on them. They’ll appreciate it.
- Brand equity equals brand valuation. Every point of incremental brand equity you build is correllated to the incremental value of your company. It’s good business.
What do you do now?
- Your branding work comes first. Identify who and what you are—and decide who you’re not. Make choices.
- Bring your partners in to share your vision. Ask the head of customer service, your vice president of Sales, your technical support team and others to see themselves through this new set of eyes.
- Start making changes today.
- Ask your customers if they see the changes you think you’re implementing. If they do, keep going. If they don’t, ask where and refine.
- Keep going. It’s a journey, not a destination.
Does this make sense to you? Can you see yourself applying this Eigen Value lens to your brand? Can you think of other brands that are Eigen Values? Add your comments and case studies, because I’d like to hear them – and they’ll help others, too.
Would you like to share this idea with others? Change This thinks this is a worthy manifesto and I’d like to publish an expanded version of this idea up there.
If you agree and want to help me share this idea, visit The Eigen Value “Change This” Manifesto Link.