Make Meaning Grid
“The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning,” says Guy Kawasaki (in The Art of the Start). It could be to right a wrong, or save a life. Equally well it could be to raise hormone-free beef on grassland.
But assuming you are struggling with how to define your business in terms of meaning, you can use this grid as a way to test your own business and its products. It is not a ‘right or wrong test’, but rather a stimulus for your personal reflection.
The marketing message will be greatly facilitated by the conceptualization of what your business is all about, rather than simply being attached to the practical aspects of it. Though beware that the behavior of the business is likely also to define the meaning of the business, for good or bad.
The well-worn marketing nostrum of stressing benefits rather than features is taken one stage on by working on meaning. The message you want to convey about the business will flow very naturally from the meaning of the business. The Make Meaning Grid will help you to establish the meaning of your own startup and create bonds with customers that go beyond product characteristics and price.
The Startup Owl’s Make Meaning Grid
||example: a Toyota Prius–to make a smaller travel carbon footprint|
|Beauty||example: an Apple computer–to appreciate high functional design|
|Community||example: Patagonia clothing–to feel part of the eco-adventure fellowship|
|Creation||example: a Betty Croker cake mix–to do your own baking|
|Duty||example: a pack of Seventh Generation washing liquid–to lessen landfill|
|Enlightenment||example: a subscription to National Public Radio–to support fair journalism|
|Freedom||example: a cup of Equal Exchange coffee–to support 3rd world farmers|
|Harmony||example: a Ford computerized key–to limit stereo volume for young drivers|
|Justice||example: an Aveyda beauty product–to reduce unnecessary animal testing|
|Oneness||example: a U2 CD–to feel connected to like-minded activists|
|Redemption||example: a Nautilus machine–to restore personal fitness|
|Security||example: a Dell laptop with fingerprint reader–to prevent data theft|
|Truth||example: a ShoreBank account–to have a ‘transparent’ financial service|
|Validation||example: a Rolex watch–to confirm that you can afford luxury|
|Wonder||example: a pair of Tubbs snowshoes–to walk appreciating the snowscape|
There are, of course other kinds of meaning that your business and products may have. The Make Meaning Grid from the Startup Owl is intended as a model against which you can define your own meaning. Guy Kawasaki says, “Meaning is not about money, power, or prestige. It’s not even about crating a fun place to work.” The meanings of ‘meaning’ implied by the ones in the grid above, are to make the world a better place or give significance of non-material values.