Hacking Company Growth


Unless you dwell in a cave, you’ve noticed that the buzzword “growth hacking” is omnipresent in business articles, books, and seminars.

This buzzword is counterproductive.

Newsflash: Hack, as a noun and a verb, has a negative connotation. Growth hacking, therefore, is both oxymoronic and moronic.

Unfortunately, words don’t matter in technology circles, where growth hacking originated in 2010. But, when communicating to customers, investors, reporters, and employees — also known as branding — words are paramount.

Words do matter.

Confusion and ambiguity are anathema to branding. Using any word or phrase that is not crystal-clear and unique will hurt your brand and, therefore, your business.

Yet, confusion and ambiguity reign in the business world — unnecessarily spiking the costs of sales, capital, and media.
Vocabulary Refresher

Let’s review the definitions of hack and hacking:

  • A hack is an incompetent person.
  • One who cannot cope with a situation “can’t hack it.”
  • Hacking is the act of cutting or destroying people and property, as well as invading a safe or computer.

So, to stretch the definition of hacking to mean creatively growing one’s company on a small budget, using every megaphone imaginable, makes zero sense. Stop it.
Solution on the Shelf

There’s a solution and word already on the shelf for expanding one’s company: branding. It has neither negative connotation nor double-meaning. It’s not confusing or ambiguous.

Alas, many CEOs, such as the former Wells Fargo CEO, John Stumpf, dismiss branding — and have paid high prices for doing so.

In fact, John Stumpf literally hacked his company’s growth by sullying its reputation.

Branding, as I’ve emphasized many times, including in the video below, has two elements: message and megaphone. Most people think branding only comprises the megaphone; that is why they focus on it — and fail.

Message trumps megaphone.

One cannot develop a winning message without viscerally understanding his customers — impossible by relying on social media. Only a hack would pump impotent messages through all conceivable megaphones. Sadly, hacks abound.

Parting Advice to CEOs

Make branding your #1 priority, never put a hack in charge of it, and don’t be a hack.

Fire all executives who “can’t hack it” in fixing your company’s brand.

Brand your company to impressive growth — or hack it to death.


About the Author

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of two books:
Brand Is Destiny: The Ultimate Bottom Line
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.


© 2016 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.


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