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This Is Not An Orange

An Elevator Pitch That Builds Trust

by Jeremy Nulik

This morning an alien landed near your office. It walked past the security desk and drifted to you. In your lunch, you had packed an orange. The alien is transfixed by it. To your astonishment, this alien can speak English, and it asks you, “What is that thing?”

Now, here, you have a few choices. You can tell the alien it is an orange. That would tell it “what” the orange is. And that description is the most precise to describe what is understood by observing the outside of the orange.

But, since we are not aliens, we know there is so much more to the orange than what is visible from its exterior. It has a richness. It has an ancient generational history with our species. It is part of a family of citrus fruits. And the inside of the orange is a new set of bright flavors, textures and colors. A freshly picked orange can offer a bouquet of tastes before you even peel it or eat it.

If we want to be honest with the alien (and not just precise), we would say something like, “This fruit delivers a bright sustenance to my afternoons, and it’s rich in vitamins and natural energy. We call it an orange. Do you want to try it?”

While that could use some wordsmithing, maybe that would help the alien to understand better the thing - in its context. From its inside and from its outside.

So often, when we are asked to describe ourselves, our ideas or our organizations, we fall into the trap of being precise. We answer “what” very directly. What are you? I am an architect. What is your company? We design homes (insert features and benefits statements or marketing buzzwords.)

At some point in the mechanization of marketing, we stopped communicating in a human-to-human manner. We have instead co-opted MBA platforms to describe something. And those platforms have favored precision over honesty. They sound like, “We do x for y.” They are true but they are not the whole truth.

Brand-focused conversations ought to offer the deepest, most visceral connection to an audience. It ought to carry the weight of making that connection felt and understood in a way that is profound.

Why is this understanding of brand important for you or your organization? Because a brand is intended to create a basis of trust between itself and the audiences it serves.

The people who make up your audience are aliens to your brand. And if what you are serving them is the precise answer to what your brand is, then they are missing the visceral components. They are likely not connecting and building trust.

So how can you uncover that profundity and make it understood? How can you create that connection? You can begin the process with four essential questions. These questions can start to shake loose for you a brand position unique to you.

1. What is it that drives you? The answer may not be unique to you. A great many people may share your passion. But work to articulate it most accurately.

2. What is it that makes your passion unique? This is your behavior in the world or how you live out that passion.

3. What impact do you hope to have on the world? This is how you want your audience to perceive your intention.

4. How will the world be changed because you achieved your impact? This is a vision for the world after you are gone.

If you can create for yourself the shortest, best possible answers to these questions, your brand can begin to build trust with your audiences. Your messaging and strategy decisions will become obvious. And you can create new opportunities that are otherwise missed.

Jeremy Nulik ( is evangelist prime at bigwidesky, a design futures agency, in St. Louis, Mo.
Submitted 2 years 115 days ago
Categories: categoryMarketing Works
Views: 1101