I can hear you say, “Huh? What is UMAMI?”
The Google search definition describes it as “u·ma·mi” - “a category of taste in food (besides sweet, sour, salt, and bitter), corresponding to the flavor of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate.” I enjoy the definition from Urban Dictionary; “A BS invented flavor that TV chefs pretend to be able to recognize, but can never define.”
However, for these purposes it has a slightly different meaning, I call it the “secret sauce” that will propel your business to the stratosphere by differentiating you from your competitors and making your business instantly recognizable in the sea of your industry. If you want to be a super successful company, you need to find it, describe it and embrace it.
Simply put - you will need to define your product value and prove how it is unique and invaluable to the customer.
Let’s dig a little deeper in to this. Zach Stevens of Sygnal Studios, a branding firm based in San Diego, has these thoughts on UMAMI….
“Customers do not gauge traits like better, faster, or innovative very well. However, they can easily identify something different.
Which circle stands out? That's right. The black one. It's the same size as the others, but there is something unique making it more memorable than the other circles. Apply this concept at a macro level: your brand and your competitors'. Your brand is the culmination of all experiences someone has with your business, a perception. If you look, sound, and act just like your competitors, you will be perceived as replaceable. Thankfully, these perceptions are malleable.
How do you influence perceptions? You align all of your customers' experiences to one feeling, one that they are missing from everyone else. Everything from visuals, language, to behavior circles back to one feeling. Think "prestige" to Mercedes or "triumph" to Nike, these brands are founded upon a feeling; their Umami. Though never explicitly stated, its presence is what makes these companies irreplaceable. Here's the catch, unless you define it, you can't achieve it.”
Your UMAMI is that difference, the feeling you invoke in those customers you are targeting with your brand. The difficult bit is identifying that feeling and expressing it to your market audience.
Here’s a few things to consider when identifying your company’s UMAMI.
First, define the STRATEGY around your ideal client. Start asking the right questions about your customers and clients, specifically:
1. Who are the customers for your product/service?
2. What does it do for the customer?
3. Why will the customer purchase it from your company?
4. When will they buy it?
5. What will create the urgency?
Then, define the MARKET your customers and clients are in. Start by defining the right conditions for that market, specifically:
Define the market opportunity for your product/service, including the market size and distribution of the market.
How does the market exist today and is there opportunity to convert it?
Is the market growing and for how long?
How many customers comprise the market?
Do they have funds to purchase the product/service?
What level of customization will the product/service require for each customer?
Finally, define the COMPETITION and the SALES CHANNEL needed. Start by analyzing what others in your industry are doing, specifically:
1. Has anyone solved the same problems in a different ways?
2. Who does your company compete against?
3. How well established is the competition?
4. Who else could become competitors in this market?
5. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors in this market?
6. Will your company sell this product/service directly or indirectly to this market?
7. How will potential customers be made aware of your benefits?
Once you answer all of the above questions you can ask this final question: “How can my company’s product or service be differentiated from my competitors?”
You will now be able to successfully identify the compelling, sustainable, competitive advantages to your company and how your product/service is superior to current and future competition.
That’s your UMAMI!
Download the INFIX Vision & Strategy Guide
A worksheet to walk you through the process of writing your own mission statement.
If you're ready to stop working IN your business and start working ON your business, download this step-by-step worksheet to walk you through developing your own Vision & Strategy plan.
By the end of the exercise, you'll have a clear mission statement with a construct analysis guide on goals you need to achieve to make your vision achievable and successful.