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When BrightBox first got off the ground, explaining what the business did was a difficult task. When potential clients and media used to ask what the services of the company were, our representatives would explain that we did trade shows, web design, public relations, marketing, sales… any number of tasks. Unfortunately, as versatile and impressive as that might sound, people walked away from us without a clue as to what we actually did differently than anyone else.

To make matters worse, those who did manage to understood what we did got the impression we were spread far too thin. Clients that need a salesman are likely to go out and get a hired gun who is focused on sales. The same can be said of advertisement, public relations or any of the other categories of business that are so essential to making money these days.

Now, when someone asks a BrightBox employee what we do, we tell them in three words:

BrightBox is Branding.

That way, the clients can decide for themselves if they want to dig deeper and see what else is in our toolbox. We don’t have to explain that we build web sites, create brochures, issue press releases, build social networks, close sales… we just tell people we brand. All of those tools are elements of our identity that come out as people get to know us better.

Over time, any part of the BrightBox Empire that didn’t fit directly into branding was spun into a sibling organization. Rather than include printing in the BrightBox business framework, we created InkBox, a separate entity dedicated to printing brochures and other media materials. Rather than spread BrightBox too thin by focusing on trade shows, we started ShowBox, a distinct organization focused on trade show materials and execution.

Successful companies represent strong, concentrated concepts in the minds of their consumers.

If you asked a McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner what his company does, he would tell you they sell fast food hamburgers. If you wanted to know more, you could ask and he would list the menu for you.

If you asked Jim Carrey what he does for a living, he would say he’s an actor. If you wanted to know whether he did film, stage acting, or directing, you could ask and he would tell you about it.

If you asked a Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi what her company does, she would tell you they sell soda. If you wanted to know whether they also sold chips to supplement that soda (they do), you could ask and she could tell you her product lineup.

You should aim to do the same. Rather than using your name to mean a million different things, tell people the focus of your brand and let them dig up the rest for themselves.

Take the BrightBox approach. Create a family of brands rather than a mutant.