Contact us

If you’d like to find out more about how our creative muscle can help you grow your business through great design, please get in touch.

Contact us

If you’d like to find out more about how our creative muscle can help you grow your business through great design, please get in touch.

What makes you the only one?

How many times did you think you had a fantastic idea about a project, or even about starting up a new company, but the questions were always the same: Is this a good idea? Do I have the "big idea" that can help the world?

Today I've decided to talk about a section of a book that has inspired me for years, I use these tips for my daily work, projects, and life - ZAG: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands, by Marty Neumeier


Complete this sentence: Our brand is the ONLY ............................ that ............................


In the first blank, put the name of your category (Architect, Startup, Interior designer). In the second blank, describe your company (that designs giant tree-houses; that uses data and AI for digital personalization). If you can't keep it brief and use the word ONLY, then you need to find the "big idea" that makes your company unique. Your best option, in that case, is to make a list of all the competitors who could make the same claim, then start to shift your strategy away from theirs.

Remember, a "big idea" is not merely differentiation, but RADICAL differentiation. So when my local bank bought a fifty-foot outdoor poster emblazoned with the tagline, "Nice. Since 1878: they'd have been better off putting their money in a savings account."Nice" is not a "big idea," and neither is "1878." A "big idea" is what Citibank did when they positioned their company as the anti-bank with the tagline, "Live richly," and headlines such as, "For a guaranteed return on investment, try buying flowers. "Onliness" is the true test of a "big idea." If you can't confidently say you're the "only," go back and start over.

Does the wine bar concept pass the "onliness" test?

Let's try it. "Our brand is the ONLY chain of wine bars that builds a community around wine education." Yep. That works. Even with this simple statement, you can see that there are three unique attributes that will set the brand apart: It's a chain instead of a one-off; it's about community, not just customers; and it's built on education, not just enjoyment. Now that you've got the principle, here's a more detailed version of the exercise to help you pinpoint your onliness.

It parallels the journalistic model of storytelling:

WHAT is your category?
HOW are you different?
WHO are your customers?
WHERE are they located?
WHEN do they need you?
and WHY are you important?

For Harley-Davidson

WHAT: The ONLY motorcycle manufacturer
HOW: That makes big, loud motorcycles
WHO: For macho guys (and macho "wannabees")
WHERE: Mostly in the United States
WHY: Who wants to join a gang of cowboys
WHEN: In an era of decreasing personal freed0

For the wine bar

WHAT: The ONLY chain of wine bars
HOW: That builds a community around education
WHO: For men and women of drinking age
WHERE: In cities and progressive towns in the U.S
WHY: Who wants to learn more about wine
WHEN: In an era of cultural awakening

An onliness statement provides a framework for your "big idea." Once you've defined your point of differentiation, you have a decisional filter for all your company's future decisions. By checking back against your statement you can quickly see whether any new decision will help or hurt, focus or unfocus, purify or modify your brand.

I hope this short article helps you as it helps me every day to clean up and filter my ideas and understand how your brand can be unique from its competitors.

- - - 

About Nugno

Nugno is a Branding & Digital Design studio. Founded and run by strategic branding & digital design experts that shares a love of innovation, design and digital connection.

We create strategy and design with production across all platforms. We’re masters of brand identity and on point with websites and apps. Our skills extend to designing books people want to read and environments they feel comfortable in. We also create engaging motion design and much more.

- - - 

Learn more at Nugno services or follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram Twitter, #bynugno.

Start a conversation

Luca Amoriello, Director
Tel: +353 (0)87 383 2134