Pick a Lock

As the number of choices in every marketplace increases, the power of the consumer to indulge her worldview increases just as quickly. To go to market without understanding your audience’s various worldview is like trying to pick a lock without bothering to notice whether it uses a key or a combination.

Seth Godin, All Marketers Tell Stories

The Diesel Cafe in Davis Square in Somerville, MA is almost directly across the street from a Starbucks. It’s always busy.

How is it possible that this independent shop can compete against a multinational behemoth with near ubiquitous name recognition when they’re both selling coffee?

Because it’s not just about the beans. It’s about everything that surrounds the beans: the music on the stereo, the baristas making the coffee, the art on the walls, the other clientele, the handwritten signs. It’s about the vibe. It’s about the story the people who choose one over the other tell themselves about who they are.

Some people want the predictability of Starbucks. Some people want the punk rock sensibility of Diesel.

The Diesel Cafe is thriving because they recognize that there are plenty of people who want the opposite of Starbucks. They recognize that it has very little to do with the drinks people are ordering.

All the decisions they make to celebrate & serve those people, & to ignore the folks who want a Starbucks experience, are decisions of branding.

Your gym is no different. The product might be thrusters & pull-ups, but that’s not why people will choose you. They’ll choose you because of the vibe, because of the people, because you made the decision to build something for them (& people just like them).

Patrick Cummings