The 101 of category design - Step 2

December 13, 2022
The 101 of category design - Step 2

Naming & Framing Your Category Name

It all starts with your Point-Of-View, your POV. The most effective POVs aim the conversation in such a different direction that it’s often hard for the masses to understand (or accept) what this new POV might mean for the world.

Here are two powerful examples:

“Don’t Go There, Live There.” Airbnb’s tagline is a POV. The company did not say, “We’re better than hotels.”

They attacked the old category (“being a tourist”) by creating a different category that produced a different experience. And once people saw this legendary, different POV, they couldn’t unsee it.

When Henry Ford called the first vehicle a “horseless carriage,” he was using language to get the customer to STOP, listen, and immediately understand the FROM-TO: the way the world was to the new and different way he wanted it to be.

Had he called the first vehicle a “faster horse,” that would have been lazy languaging (and lazy thinking).

Legendary POVs have a simple architecture.

  1. Frame a different problem/opportunity.
  2. Evangelize a different future.
  3. Show customers how your “solution” bridges the gap from the problem/opportunity to the different future.

Let’s use this framework to see how Vinebox framed, named, and claimed its POV, “Premium wine by the glass,” through messaging we pulled from its website.

“We believe premium wines are delicious, but committing to buying an entire bottle of premium wine only to not enjoy what you’ve just bought is a terrible experience. So instead, we ship you vials of premium wine by the glass—and then any you really like, you can buy a full bottle of as well.”

  1. Frame: “We believe premium wines are delicious, but committing to buying an entire bottle of premium wine only to not enjoy what you’ve just bought is a terrible experience.”
  2. Evangelize: “So instead, we ship you vials of premium wine by the glass…”
  3. Show: “…and then any you really like, you can buy a full bottle of as well.”

Two things happen when languaging is executed successfully and reflects a well-defined POV of the category.

1. You become known for the new language you’ve invented.

You know your languaging is working when customers start using the language you created. For example, in the early 2000s, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff created new language for the new category he was creating.

He called it “cloud-based software.” (There’s “software” you buy and install on your computer via CD-ROM, and there’s “cloud-based software” you buy and use from any computer and any browser connected to the Internet.) What happened?

The entire technology industry started adopting the language he and Salesforce invented.

2. Customers don’t see you as “better.” They see you as different.

When you successfully use language to change thinking, the second thing that happens is you dam the demand. When you use intentional language to modify the existing category (“cloud-based software”), you create a chasm between the old and the new.

For example, an “e-bike” is not better than a “bicycle.” It’s something different. It has different benefits, use cases, price points, profit models, and manufacturing processes.

One single letter and a dash tell the reader/customer/consumer/user, “this thing is not like what came before it.” These languaging modifications make the customer STOP, tilt their head, and immediately wonder, “This is for something different—do I need this?”

And since you were the one who invented the language, you become the trusted authority to educate them on the definition of that new language—and subsequently, that new category.

Once you have the language to claim your category, you’re ready to apply it to a framework that can dramatically improve your odds of becoming a Category King or Queen— The Magic Triangle . We'll discuss that in our next post.

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