Soon Yu: Cut the Platitudes and Chase ‘Iconicity’

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — The elevator pitches channel partners make to distinguish themselves often sound eerily similar.

Soon Yu made this point during his keynote at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. The brand expert and former vice president of innovation at VF Corp. shared tips on how to build an iconic offering.

“Those people that focus on building iconic status within their organizations, within their service offerings, within their products – they actually have the highest level of profitability within the organization,” he said.

He said he talked to about 10 vendors in the expo hall on Tuesday and had plenty of constructive criticism regarding how companies describe themselves.

“When I talked to like competitors, I walked away thinking, ‘It sounds like the same pitch. Everyone’s end-to-end. No one’s transactional; they’re all relational. They’re going to empower my business. A lot of buzzwords, a lot of platitudes,’” he said.

Yu said an iconic brand has three main attributes: noticing power, staying power and scaling power.

An example is the Nike Air shoe, which has been popular for 30 years running. The product began with the unique differentiator of having an air pocket at the bottom of shoe, but it didn’t take off until subsequent versions of the shoe made the air pocket more prominent for people to see (a prime example of “noticing power”).{ad}

Another example is Amazon, which has made “buy now with one click” its bread and butter.

“They want to own the idea of ‘no patience required,’” Yu said.

But what Yu said is truly impressive is the fact that Amazon disrupted its heritage business and was essentially innovating against its own strengths.

“They were willing to own the category benefit that they were known for in such a way that they were willing to cannibalize themselves for it.”

He closed by suggesting that partners ask their customers to find out how their services meet needs. If various customers give conflicting reports, perhaps it may be time to rethink your brand promise, Yu said.

The Channel Partners Conference & Expo wrapped Thursday. Major players have used the show for announcements, including Verizon and AT&T.

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