25th July 2019

The three words you need to know about your business

‘Omne trium perfectum’ – it’s a Latin phrase that translates as ‘things that come in threes are perfect’, the phrase even has three words. There’s something special about the number three and in language it manages to convey brevity, energy and expertise in a pleasantly rhythmic and memorable fashion.

It’s used in marketing, films and book titles – there’s no ‘Two Musketeers’ or ‘Four Amigos’ and ‘The Very Big Lebowski’ is oddly jarring. Even if the three words are actually short phrases, like eBay’s ‘See it, Love it, Buy it’, there’s a satisfying snappiness to it. It’s not a new thing either, the tripartite motto ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité’ has been around since the French Revolution and Julius Caesar was doing his ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’ bit long before that.

But you can use the power of three inwardly too. While it’s great to be able to explain what you do to others in three catchy words, it’s just as useful to be able to distil it in your own mind and in the minds of everyone who works for you. Before anybody else can know you, you need to know yourself. Here’s how to do it.

What do you do again?

If you’re running a business, you’re likely to be:

a) Very enthusiastic about your offering.

b) Absolutely certain that you understand the intrinsic value and processes of whatever it is that you do.

Sadly you may find that you’re also:

c) Strangely unable to articulate any of this should someone spontaneously ask you in the lift

d) Missing business opportunities because of c).

It’s really frustrating – that’s why the concept of the ‘elevator pitch’ came along in the first place. How many business opportunities have been lost over the years simply because someone was unable to string together a punchy sentence on cue? But even an elevator pitch, or a 90-second pitch, or any of those marketing tools can be pared down further. To truly know your business, what it stands for, why it’s different and crucially, what it should convey in everything you do in future, you must be able to get it down to three words – more specifically, three adjectives.

Seeing it in the cards

At Uniquity, we’ve developed a tool to help you do exactly this. Sometimes when you’re far along the line of building your business, it’s hard to find your way back. You need to force yourself to do it – retrace your steps and remember what you originally set out to do. Which three words set out the basic values that you hold most dear?

In our handy pack of cards, you’ll find the means to help you. You’ll start with the four cards marked ‘You are’, ‘You are not’, ‘Does not apply’ and ‘You are torn’. The rest of the pack is filled with adjectives that you can set out beneath these four headings. When you have a list of all the things that you are, it’s time to start whittling them down until you have the three completely indispensible ones – the three words that describe your brand and set your ethos out.

If you’re struggling, you can get it down to a couple of sets of three, or more, then ask other people in your company to vote for their favorite triptych. Getting your employees behind your values is a key part of making them work, so if there’s any uncertainty at this point about the three magic words you’ll use from now on, see what they think too.

Once you have the three that are right for you, make them your totem – with every activity, email, video, brochure or any other marketing decision – look back and revisit them, then ask yourself, Does what you’re doing reflect these three words? Does what you’re doing represent the brand?

The power of free

If you’d like to give it a go, we’ll send you a pack of cards free. Just drop us a line at hello@uniquity.co and we’ll post a set out to you. What you’ll end up with is a three-word mantra that sets out your stall both internally and for the brand image you project to clients.

Remember, it’s a long-established principle in geometry that the strongest shape is a triangle – it has fixed angles and each of the three sides supports the other two making it incredibly resilient and difficult to distort or break. That’s why triangles are used to build things – bridges, cranes and other structures that are big, strong and built to last. That’s exactly how your brand should be too.