Why are viewers loyal to CNN, NPR, or Fox News? Why do our Facebook and YouTube feeds provide us with a consistent and reinforcing string of posts related to the ones we’ve watched before? Why are we affiliated with the political party we are? Why do we hang with the group of friends that we do?
The simple and profound answer is that they each shares “Simpatico” with us.
Simpatico is a term I use to define one of the three brand attributes that drive brand preference for professional services firms. I choose the word Simpatico because I believe it best captures the intangible nature of this valuable brand attribute.
What Is Simpatico?
In its simplest terms, Simpatico is about being “in sync” with another. The Free Dictionary defines simpatico as
- Of like mind or temperament; compatible.
- Having attractive qualities; pleasing.
Seth Godin summed up Simpatico nicely for me in a July 26, 2013 blog post, “People like us do things like this.”:
More than features, more than benefits, we are driven to become a member in good standing of the tribe. We want to be respected by those we aspire to connect with, we want to know what we ought to do to be part of that circle.
Not the norms of mass, but the norms of our chosen tribe.
Simpatico means we share the way we see ourselves and the world.
Why is Simpatico Important?
Simpatico does not just drive our news sources, social media feeds, political affiliations, and friend groups. It drives our being and, as a result, most of our choices.
It’s critical for firms to understand this concept if they want to be effective at building their brand and driving growth. Contrary to popular belief, Marketing does not convince anyone to do anything. It simply speaks and either reinforces or contradicts what the listeners believe to be true about themselves and the world.
The 3 Components of Simpatico
Simpatico is a brand attribute made up of three interrelated components. Each individual component is comprised of its own complex rational and irrational criteria. Together, they shape the intuitive sense that we are either of like mind, temperament, or compatibility or we are not.
- A shared worldview
- Being easy to do business with
1. A shared worldview
By definition, we cannot have Simpatico (i.e. be in sync) with all people because all people–and all companies–are different. Compare Chick-fil-a or Hobby Lobby to Google or Twitter. These companies share very little in common in terms of core values and worldviews. These values and worldviews cascade down into management priorities, processes, and systems and manifest in buying decisions.
Buyers want to work with people who share their views of the world, their industry, and their issue. I’m not saying that buyers do not want to hear from firms that make them think. They just want to share the same lens for viewing those ideas and perspectives. In other words, they operate from their own set of pre-determined “first principles.”
For example, here are some worldviews that shape B2B buying decisions:
- Is marketing a strategic or tactical function?
- Is technology a cost or an investment in competitive advantage?
- Is risk good or bad?
- Does Sales or Product drive revenue growth?
- Are our employees our most important asset or are our clients?
The answers to these questions and hundreds more like them reflect corporate and buyer views that have been shaped over time like a superego. They don’t really change and don’t want to be challenged. They desire acceptance. Your firm’s POV will either align or will not.
Trust is a reflection of interrelated attributes that manifests in intuition. It is a feeling of assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. No one is better at explaining the importance of trust than Charlie Green author of The Trusted Advisor. People want to work with magnanimous, competent peers who know their stuff, say what they are going to do, and do it consistently
3. Being easy to do business with
Finally, firms want to work with firms that are easy to do business with. That means that they want to work with others that share compatible systems and processes, don’t have 100-page MSAs, and don’t nickel and dime them to death.
Firms with confidence and strong brands understand Simpatico intuitively. Others delusionally believe that they can be all things to all people. That is, they can be wonderfully attractive to some buyers while simultaneously not abhorrent to others with a completely different worldview and buying criteria.
You may hope to be a “beacon of harmony” in our polarizing world but the odds are against you. As political differences become deeper, digitization grows, and corporate initiatives like ESG take root, Simpatico will assume an even more dominant role. The key to firm success is to accept that reality, know your firm’s worldview, and identify the Ideal Client that shares Simpatico with you.
I’m not saying that your brand has to be offensive. I am saying that it does need to be repellant. It must repel the clients that do NOT value the value you provide and the way in which you provide it. It must attract those that share Simpatico.
To build a strong brand and realize its growth potential a firm must commit to a strong POV and a way of being. The alternative is to be cast into a sea of sameness and to exist with unrealized potential.