Really nice short post from Brian Phipps here, on what appears to be a new blog
Creating customers is what brands are all about. It’s their mission.
There are many ways that brands create customers. One way is to connect customers with their potential. This enables customers to grow in new directions, creating new markets for the companies that serve them.
Antiquated brands that decorate a package, or sit on a shelf, or pose as immutable icons simply don’t pass the test. They are now being “out-created” left and right, as their customers move on.
This gets to the heart of why I am obsessive about RedMonk as a brand. I don’t believe in business as usual. I don’t believe that if we renamed ourselves tomorrow, or were acquired, it would make no difference to our business.
Sure we’re “just another industry analyst firm”, but we’re also associated with some of the most important trends in business and technology today, and even more importantly, in three years we’ve invested RedMonk with a set of core values around independence
. You can’t buy or claim those values without acting accordingly.
We want to be trusted advisors, and trust is something you can earn but you can’t buy.
A strong brand also allows you to punch above your weight.
People want to work for strong brands.
People want to work with strong brands
People want to compete against strong brands
But how can we have a strong brand when we’re so small?
I know that many smaller professional services firms feel uncomfortable when clients or prospects ask: “How big are you?” I am sure David Maister
, the professional services guru, would have something to say about this tendency.
Graham Brown, the retired founder of research company Neaman Bond, advised me when we first set up shop to use the name RedMonk Associates, so we could appear larger than we really were. I admit I suffered a little from the fear that we were too small to be taken seriously, but chose not to take Graham’s advice. The name RedMonk felt resonant and right. It had flow. It was always going to garner attention.
I have to admit I occasionally caught myself counting my dad, who helped us with some administration for a while, as a staff member, even though he could hardly be called full-time. What about Stephen’s mom, the English professor and RedMonk report proof-reader?
Dissembling can set in though. Once you start where do you stop… “maybe we can count our accountant as staff….nobody will notice. Or we can call our content editor an analyst… that wouldn’t really be unethical would it?”
If you’ll lie about your size at startup though, then what on earth lies will you tell on the verge of a major contract win? Hardly the ideal background for a transparent, declarative approach to business, I am sure you would agree.
The charm is not to worry about it and just be open and honest and capable – you will win customers on that basis.
Today RedMonk is still no bigger in terms of people. But the brand is far bigger.
I rarely worry about RedMonk being too small these days.
Small means the founder makes a far greater percentage of the customer interactions. Small means the founder is close to the decisions that matter and can make them, quickly.
Small is the new big because small gives you the flexibility to change the business model when your competition changes theirs.
Small means you can tell the truth on your blog.
Small means that you can answer email from your customers.
Small means that you will outsource the boring, low-impact stuff like manufacturing and shipping and billing and packing to others, while you keep the power because you invent the remarkable and tell stories to people who want to hear them.
A small law firm or accounting firm or ad agency is succeeding because they’re good, not because they’re big. So smart small companies are happy to hire them.
I am not saying we don’t want to grow, just that we don’t need to. That’s the beauty of the brand we have established. That’s a lesson my colleague taught me.
The flipside? If RedMonk lost Stephen O’Grady and tecosystems
, which is somewhat of a brand it its own right (just ask most open source startup bloggers), it would be a huge blow. Personal brand versus corporate brand tensions have always been an issue in professional services businesses, even more so in the age of the “professional blogger”. If Stepho choose to leave though, we’d be ok. Some tremendously talented people have expressed an interest in working for RedMonk over the last three years.
Today the RedMonk brand speaks for us as much as Stephen and I speak for it. I’d be very interested to know though: What does our brand say to you? Or what does your brand say to us?