How SIC Is Your Brand?


If you respond with a “SIC” answer to the question, What does your company do? your brand is SIC.

SIC is a government-standardized system for generically classifying companies by industry codes. Researchers use SIC codes to analyze industry characteristics. Salespeople use SIC codes to hunt for prospective customers. Such behind-the-scenes activities should set the boundaries of SIC codes. If only that were true.

An illustrative example of a SIC answer, the antithesis of a brand (value proposition): Acme International is the world’s largest and oldest manufacturer of titanium-reinforced widgets. See this in the animation I made a few years ago.

Nigel, the CEO in the video above, recognized his company’s SIC brand and vowed to fix it. As I exhort in Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding, fixing the brand requires corporate-wide cultural change — the way everyone thinks, talks, and acts. Alas, too many CEOs loathe admitting deficiency and making cultural changes. But, they must!

Always put yourself in the shoes of the customer, the investor, the journalist. People buy, invest in, and write about value. If your brand is SIC, it is generic. It is devoid of value and, hence, weak.

Yet, CEOs — and their employees — invariably give SIC answers when asked to explain their companies’ endeavors. They put SIC verbiage on their homepages, in their brochures, and in their pitches.

How can the audiences determine, in 15 seconds, what makes your company unique when reading or hearing SIC verbiage? They can’t. Think higher costs of sales, capital, and media.

Parting Advice to CEOs

Why do CEOs typically condone SIC brands?

As I’ve written, ad nauseam, fitting in feels safer than sticking out. Branding means sticking out and risking disapproval from industry cohorts. Bold, unique brands are “unsafe” — but they work. SIC brands are weak and forgettable — they don’t work.

Infiniti demonstrates, in the QX80 spot below, how to brand. Not a word about pistons or independent suspension! It’s about value, not features. The message is strong, not SIC.

You now have two questions before you: How SIC is your brand? When will you fix it?


About the Author

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.


© 2014 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.


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