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Amidst so much noise around the question of what “brand” really means, our unsung hero — the soup dumpling — has the answer we’ve been searching for. Enjoy.
This article originally appeared on The Startup, Medium's largest active publication.
If you’re like me, you don’t actually need an excuse to dig into some deliciously juicy and warm steamed soup dumplings. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the dead of winter or during a summer heatwave — they call my name all year round.
While recently digging into a batch of these other-worldly delicacies, I came across something interesting.
Now, don’t hate me for this. I try to get freshly-made soup dumplings when I can but it’s not always in the cards (and sometimes the cravings are strong enough that I simply can’t sit around and wait for a proper dumpling joint to whip up a batch of pure juicy magic just for me) so… I eat the frozen ones from Trader Joe’s.
I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds
Except, in this case, it was.
I ate five out of six dumplings and, wouldn’t you know it, the time came to consume the FINAL one (you will eventually learn my dumpling eating technique but it will have to wait until another day, good friend) and everything was fine until…
No filling. Just broth.
The room went dark around me. Chopsticks dramatically fell to the floor, probably in slow motion. Which is weird because I wasn’t using chopsticks. Or slow motion.
A single tear slowly danced its way down my bewildered and defeated face.
The pain… the shame. This was an abomination.
Thankfully, my family was there to comfort and grieve with me during those difficult days.
In time, I did eventually come around.
And the lesson I learned is the one I share with you today.
Don’t Not Have Filling.
Er, guess I should say, “have filling.” Either way, here’s the actual concept in a nutshell (or a dumpling shell, if you will, but I think in that case you would call it “skin” which, now that I type it out, seems pretty darn strange):
People don’t buy what your business does or how it does it. They buy the WHY behind your business.
Simon Sinek’s highly influential book — Start with Why — goes into a lot more detail about this model, which he refers to as the “Golden Circle,” a circle consisting of three rings and, at least in my imagination, filled with delicious, golden broth and, yes you guessed it, a proper meat filling.
The dumplings call me yet again but before I go, think about this…
How carefully have you considered the WHY behind your business? Every business stands for something at its core. Some businesses were founded to meet a need where nobody else would or could. It doesn’t have to be a save-the-world kind of cause but it does have to be there.
“Brand,” in the simplest and most practical terms, means aligning the WHY behind your business with your target audience.
Start with your WHY. If it is at the top of your mind, is it also driving your actual business decisions? Do your employees know what it is and do they value it the way you do? It should be built into and integral to your business. If it isn’t, it’s time to incorporate it.
The strength of your brand depends on it. What does that translate to, in real life? Let’s say you were to compete with a company that is the same as yours in every way (even target audience) but they fail to effectively communicate their brand. You, on the other hand, have committed (after reading this article, naturally) to communicating what your business stands for in a way that resonates with your target audience. In the marketplace, you will win that battle every time.
So, go find your filling! If you already have, make sure it’s there to resonate with your target audience. You’re already on your way to building a better brand.
As for me, I’m off to go devour a dumpling… or six.