The Purple Ribbon of WOW and Its Impact On Your Brand


Marketing terminology really hasn’t changed over the years—even though consumers, the market, technology, and expectations have.

In my experience, there are gaps between formal, traditional marketing statements, the pillars of marketing success, and the actual application and results of these structures. The statements are either too formal and wordy or too slapstick and trendy. The pillars used to build and define marketing efforts were based on consumer behavior of the 1950s at best.

Now, yes, an argument could be made that if these statements are crafted properly, then they become timeless and flexible to accommodate the market, technology, and consumer trends. And, the pillars provide a consistent structure and language throughout the industry. But the reality is, the statements often aren’t crafted properly and the pillars can become too confining which results in organizations become stuck in a swamp of constantly changing, evolving, or even obsessing over something that doesn’t matter because it was never created in a way that is useable, flexible, or as a way to unify the organization or it’s market.

Hence the introduction of what I call, the WOW statement.

I was originally introduced to the concept of a WOW statement from a friend and mentor of mine, Extreme Emcee, Brian Walter, founder of The Extreme Meetings Experience in his video Verbal Ping Pong. In short, he describes a WOW statement as a short conversational phrase that generates interest in what you do because no one wants to listen to your drone on and on and on and on...

Over the years in using this concept with my clients, I have found something far more powerful when crafting a WOW statement to answer the dreaded question, “what do you do?” When crafted correctly, the WOW statement becomes a core premise or a purple ribbon that, like a slinky can expand and contract into multiple forms—creating a level of consistency, accountability, and flexibility to allow an organization to scale and to become that preferred brand in the industry.

The WOW statement unifies the language within the organization, with its clients, and in the market. It also translates well across different delivery methods like websites, brochures, merchandise, and answering the dreaded question “what do you do”.

As I have helped numerous clients from start-ups through international organizations craft their WOW statement, there are three common ways that I see it implemented:

  • As a tagline. Think Nike: Just Do It. It gets to the point, it's sexy, it’s easy to say and remember, but by itself, it doesn’t really mean anything on its own. It’s just used as a tagline for consumers and in marketing. This gives you a line to put on your merchandise and makes it super easy for your market to repeat a phrase that they connect with.
  • As the mission statement. Often the organizations I work with adopt an extended version of the WOW statement to become their mission statement
    Taking this approach gives you the benefits of a tagline and the consistency of filtering it through the organization. And yes, it can also become how you answer the question, “what do you do. A client of mine, Paths to Understanding did this. Their WOW statement (and now organization tagline) is Bridging bias. Building unity. Their mission statement is now Bridging bias and building unity through multi-faith peacemaking. That is also how they answer the question, “what do you do.” Every service they offer is connected to the organization through this purple ribbon of their WOW statement.
    A key point to note here is when I work with nonprofits, there are legal requirements/board voting requirements to change the mission statement. For some, this is a non-issue, for others it’s non-negotiable.
  • As a campaign. Some examples are Apple: Think Different, or any of Coca-Cola’s: Delicious and refreshing, Things go better with Coke, Always Coca-Cola, Open Happiness, or Taste the feeling.
    The WOW statement can also be used simply as a campaign slogan—meaning it will only be around for a set period of time to capture attention. Campaign slogans can end up defining a brand and ultimately become the organization’s tagline, some examples where this has happened: Wheaties in 1935 started using “breakfast of champions”; Hallmark in 1934 started using “When you care enough to send the very best”; or John Deere in 1972 started using “nothing runs like a Deere”.

The WOW statement works hand-in-hand with the positioning statement so they should be able to flow together. The WOW statement is like a slinky—it's flexible in its application and conveys a powerful, usually emotionally driven value in simple everyday terms so your brand remains interesting and invites others to be curious about you. The positioning statement reveals more specific details either about the market you work with or how you provide value. Though more specific, it’s still flexible enough to allow room to grow and scale your business. My latest tagline and positioning statements are a great example of how the WOW statement is flexible enough to accommodate different situations:

  • Omicle’s WOW statement: Be Ready To Scale.®
  • Omicle’s positioning statement: Omicle delivers brand clarity, marketing strategy, and operational efficiency to prepare leaders to scale their business.
  • How I answer, “what do you do”? I work with leaders to scale their business through brand clarity, marketing strategy, and operational efficiency.

While the WOW statement will not solve all of your business challenges, when crafted properly it creates consistency, accountability, and a targeted direction for your business to scale making it easier for your market to know who you are and the value that you provide. This clarity closes more sales faster because a confused mind never buys.