Have you figured out who you are yet?

The night sky is etched in vivid black and white tones, and in the back seat of a chauffeured car prowling the streets of Hoboken, N.J., a lawyer for a mob-connected union boss confronts his brother, Terry Malloy, about testifying against the mob in court.

Malloy, despondent over these threats, is stunned when his brother pulls a gun to emphasize his point. Their relationship had reached a nadir, and Malloy was distraught that his brother helped dismantle his fledgling boxing career.

In his dark lament, he delivers this memorable line:

What did Mom say about Being Somebody?

Our moms also told us to “be somebody” – although our behavior at any particular moment may have altered her tone when she really meant …

What does it take to be SOMEBODY?

To be “somebody,” though, means you first have to figure out WHO that somebody is.

And, as business leaders, we need to remember our companies, too, need “to be somebody” – to our customers, employees, suppliers.

Your business needs to stand for something that is clear, articulate and specific so your customers can tell you apart from others … so they can differentiate you from your competitors.

“Lewis & Clark didn’t load the canoe with Mojitos!”

Is this an ad for a canoe or kayak company?

An outdoor clothing company? A rum producer?

An adventure tour operator?

Nope. It’s Jim Beam, the proud purveyor of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey since 1795, celebrating bourbon as America’s “official native spirit.” (I left their name out of the image above to see if you could figure it out.)

They’re making a statement about brand identification – that it’s a drink for rugged individualists and outdoorsmen who might wear a Carhartt and carry a hatchet to fetch their own firewood – certainly not someone who would drink a “Mojito” (which is actually pretty good, if you ask me, but then, I’m not packing the canoe).

I love this tagline from Jim Beam

First, KNOW it, then BE it!

Jim Beam is committing to a very specific target audience.

They understand it’s a death wish to be so confused with other businesses that your customers can’t pick you out of a crowd.

Yet, companies resist clearly defining their market segments because they fear losing potential customers.There’s great danger, however, in diluting your message to customers, employees and suppliers.

The essence of the quote from the master of advertising, David Ogilvy, is this:

Jim Beam focuses on a very clear proposition.

They know who they are, who their customers are and what they expect from each other.

Could they sell whiskey to others?

Sure, and they probably do, but that’s not their core market.It might be stated as simply as this:

They’ll have no loyalty to your brand or products.

If you missed the 7 Attributes of an Olympic Class Team, you can click here. I’ve created an Olympic Attributes Assessment Tool you can use to apply these attributes to any team in your organization to see how you compare.

What Do You Stand For?

Know your core market and “stand for something” is always better than trying to be all things to all people.

Try it sometime. Grab your favorite beverage and retire to an armchair with a blank sheet of paper and pen, and think deliberately about who you are and what your business stands for.

Your real customers like to hear you understand the core values they’ve come to respect in your products and services … and you’ll be able to extend your appeal to people who want to buy from someone who knows who they are and will make them part of something greater.

It’s simple.

Just make damn sure everyone knows who you are and what you stand for.

Question: In the comments below, can you write what you stand for in 10 words or less?

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