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MarCom Matters

June 2012
Issue: #32

Still Branding

Most people I know would say I’m pretty easygoing.

Unfortunately, that’s about to change.

It’s all because a couple of weeks ago I woke up to discover my state’s new tourism slogan: “Connecticut: Still Revolutionary.”

Although, all I could think was, “Huh? I don’t even own a musket.”

Nonetheless, it seems the idea is to lure visitors by reminding them we’re just as feisty today as we were back in the eighteenth century. Okay, fair enough.

But it’s the campaign’s hint of our leading role in the country’s big reformations that has many of us residents scratching our powdered wigs.

See, even in colonial times Connecticut wasn’t called Tory Central for nothing. And – I kid you not – our governor insists the state was a pioneer in the sexual revolution. Never mind that as recently as the 1960’s, you could be put in leg irons for mentioning the word Trojan. Unless of course you were referring to an ancient warrior or college football player.

So what’s with the stir-it-up attitude coming from a state known as the Land of Steady Habits?

Well for one thing, Connecticut has always felt a bit intimidated by its neighbors. When it comes to revolution (and attracting tourists), it’s hard to trump Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.

For another, Connecticut in many ways really is a revolutionary place. But it’s in areas of commerce, transportation, innovation and the arts – not the battlefield. Our little corner is home to Phillip Roth, Arthur Miller, Mark Twain and the country’s first art museum. It’s also here that the Colt revolver, cotton gin, submarines (aquatic and edible), helicopter and the Frisbee came to be.

In a sense, the reality of what we are has collided with the idea of what we want to be. And based on the ad campaign, we want to be everything.

This happens in business as well. We cling to the idea that the things we sell can solve every buyer’s dilemma. So we highlight all of our product and service features in hopes of catching anyone who walks by. And we build our value propositions on abstractions – like next generation, scalable, superior ROI and innovative – as substitutes for credible, quantifiable differentiation.

What can we learn, then, from those revolutionary folks in Connecticut? Here are a few things…

It took lots of work to get Connecticut’s new campaign off the ground. And I have nothing but good wishes for its success. But in business as in pleasure, it’s best to communicate what truly makes you different. Because that’s why buyers will give their money to you instead of the other guy.

How’s that for a revolutionary idea?