avatarElena Vellani


How Can Marketers Harmonize a Founder’s Attitude with Their Communication Strategy?

I created effective campaigns through a blend of pragmatic information and visionary dreams

Foto di Drew Beamer su Unsplash

It’s commonly known that entrepreneurs can be great visionary pioneers or very pragmatic planners.

Pragmatic entrepreneurs mirror themselves in their business, which ends up looking like its founder: it’s practical, easy to understand, and user-friendly. Pragmatic leaders are great organizers and manage their businesses with a clear focus on their products and their selling strategies. Visionary innovators make their enterprises what they wish to be. They project their idea of the future in their company, trying to infuse their organization with their dream.

Planners set goals and then design and implement tactics to achieve them. Visionaries, on the other hand, create a vivid image of where they want their company to be and then guide others with extreme passion and agility to turn that vision into reality (Leadership Lab)¹

Besides, the key distinction between these two types of founders is that pragmatic ones operate their businesses by aligning their products or services with their customers’ lifestyles. Visionary entrepreneurs try to boost their clientele’s life towards their projects.

From my experience, I saw that it will be easier to succeed as a marketer if you find out quickly what the “big message” your organization is spreading, as these two different business philosophies approach marketing by sharing their founding principle; so, they launch two completely different ways of communicating.

Indeed, during my long years in the jewelry field, I tried to align our communication with the pragmatic imprinting of our founder, who organized a company that sells tools and consumables needed in the production of jewels. The challenge for me was to promote our business, in the most galmorous market. How could I sell plain objects with no appeal?

I started by the analysis of the different ways to communicate; looking for a way to make our campaigns more captivating.

Visionary impact vs. pragmatic approach to communication

Let’s look at the campaign of the first dreamer we all think of: in 1997, Steve Jobs launched the “Think Different” campaign, a perfect pay-off. This slogan represented him more than it represented Apple, because Jobs not only thought differently, but was fundamentally different. It has been such a turning point in marketing, that it’s still iconic 26 years later. One of its best analyses can be found in this post, which highlights how the grammatical error (‘different’ instead of ‘differently’) strengthened the concept of lateral thinking.

Think Different. A flashback of an historical campaign… | by Marianna Renesi | AD DISCOVERY — CREATIVITY Stories by ADandPRLAB | Medium

By featuring images of famous innovators and thinkers, the campaign helped to redefine what it meant to be an innovator. It inspired a generation of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers, who saw themselves as part of a larger movement that was changing the world.

Almost fifty years since its founding, Apple continues to be the embodiment of a vision in every contact with its customers. When I get into an Apple Store, I feel I’m walking into the future. Lights, furniture design, how products are displayed, salespersons are also programmers and are all connected through their devices… Everything in Apple still aligns with Steve Jobs’ vision.

On the contrary, Amazon aligns with Bezos’ pragmatism. When I think of a great manager, capable of organizing the sale of thousands of items and countless points of sale and warehouses, I think of Bezos. Amazon has never proposed to change my vision of the future, but has pragmatically improved my life with the right product, delivered on time.

That’s what they do: they provide things. Their communication is equally plain and simple.

Amazon’s Prime Day Is a Summer Sale Once Again (adweek.com)

A third way: the pragmatic visionaries

Is the line between visionaries and pragmatists always drawn with a bold marker? Sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, leaders can be visionary pragmatists. They have a vision for the future, which is not groundbreaking, but it’s innovative. These managers have the ability to link their vision to a perfect organizational structure.

Let’s look at another ultra-famous brand. When I walk into Starbucks, I feel I’m in a pragmatic place, organized by a great manager: a wide choice of consumables, at the right price, with the correct market positioning. But we can experience a step beyond: they create a place where you can enjoy their product. Before Starbucks’ redefinition of a spot for a break, you couldn’t spend hours in a coffee shop, with free Wi-Fi, choosing among such a variety of coffee-based beverages.

Aligning with their visionary pragmatism, their campaign “Ready when you are” tells a story about daily habits and relaxed time. This company is telling you: no need to hurry, your coffee is ready whenever you want. They aren’t trying to change your point of view about life, technology, and the future. Apparently, they’re only selling coffee. But just sketched out, with an ironic operational style, they suggest some iconic drinks and how to best appreciate them.

Starbucks chilled classics — Executional | Drinks Sampling Campaign.

How I found my voice

Starbucks made me understand that I could join the two philosophies. Our founder, indeed, was quite practical, but he also had a vision: our company was the first one in Italy to produce a specific raw material for the jewelry field. So, our company has never been anticipating the future, but it keeps on offering a technology that was new to our field. Not visionary pioneers, but gifted with the sparkle of a dream.

So, I had to join a technical product, with the image of an innovative company, possibly with a sprinkling of elegance. The solution I found was to split our communication into two main lines: the product information reflected the pragmatic trait, and was as thorough and descriptive as possible; and the corporate information in which I funneled the originality of our company and our founder’s vision.

Therefore, catalogs of products showed our items, in the simplest way, with a full-size photo of every tool, on a white background, accompanied by a technical data sheet. The magazine advertisement depicted a modern dancer in the midst of performing a very complex leap, as a metaphor for our values of innovation coupled with flawless execution.

Jewelry is a small field in the world of luxury goods, and the supplies for jewelry are an even smaller niche, but I’m quite proud of the campaigns my firm carried out. I am happy to have directed the marketing of my company for many years, and I’m even happier for the many lessons about entrepreneurship and marketing I learned.

¹ Translated from Italian by the author.

² The above-mentioned: Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks are registered trademarks.

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