Have you ever thought how much power just one word has with your potential customers? There are many companies that have developed and strengthened their global presence significantly by choosing to take ownership of just one word. The companies below understand how important one word is and how that word can transform a brand so that it completely owns the market.

Brands That Own One Word and Their Market

BMW (Est. 1916): Have you seen BMW’s marketing? Their message and image define the experience for the driver. From the tagline “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” BMW took the word “driving” and crafted their marketing and brand around it. This helped solidify their one word market ownership using the word “driving.” BMW does a magnificent job of owning one word — “Driving.” If you examine how they brand their company image in paid advertising as well as owned and earned media, you will see they are relentless about the pursuit of the brand word “driving.” Today, their word is still “driving,” and they are using the tagline “Sheer Driving Pleasure.”

Mercedes-Benz (Est. 1926): If you enjoy cars like me, you know Mercedes stands for “Prestige.” That’s the word they own in the market. They’ve done it so well their brand exudes the essence of it through everything they do. If you were to walk into a dealership, you will soon discover prestige is evident in everything Mercedes does from the all-important customer experience right down to the quality control and look and feel of the dealerships they own. If you are an owner of a Mercedes-Benz, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Federal Express (Est. 1971): “Overnight” is the word in which FedEx built their brand. They created a new market and continue to own it like no other company. Unlike today, back in the ’70s, there were no other companies that even thought about the overnight express business model. Federal Express quickly took advantage of that one word and made it theirs. When people think of “overnight” and shipping, they think of Federal Express. In my opinion, that one word not only helped create a new market, but it also helped FedEx establish a new value proposition and promise for customers with urgent shipping needs.

Apple (Est. 1976): It’s no secret; Apple is one of the largest, most successful companies in the world. My list wouldn’t be complete without giving a nod to arguably my favorite company on the planet. The letter “i” is synonymous with Steve Jobs’s ingenuity and innovation. This is mostly why Apple owns the letter “i,” and uses it in many of their products and services. Today, Apple owns the market even though their former leader and founder is no longer at the helm. The “i” products are world renown and always seem to amaze customers with every new launch.

ESPN (Est. 1978): ESPN owns one word in their highly competitive broadcast TV market. “Sports” is obviously the word they use to differentiate themselves from the competition. Today, there is not another player in the sports market that can compete with the mighty strength and brand appeal that ESPN has to offer. Before ESPN launched in the late ’70s, NBC and ABC both had strong sports divisions which are still thriving today, but they do not own the market like ESPN.

CNN (Est. 1980): As a former broadcast news producer, I pay attention to how news outlets are branding themselves. In my opinion, some are trying to be all things to all people, and this creates brand confusion. This is not a good habit to adopt. CNN on the other hand owns the word “news.” When Ted Turner envisioned CNN, he probably had no idea how world-changing CNN would be. CNN took ownership of the word news as well as the global broadcast news market, and never let it go. They have done this by exemplifying extraordinary credibility and a long-lasting, global news presence that nobody else has figured out how to leverage like CNN.

Does Owning One Word Still Work in Social and Digital?

The six companies above are perfect examples of owning a word and owning the market as a result. Let’s take a look at a few companies that started not too long ago. They are a great example of how even the socially and digitally charged companies of today, in a highly competitive marketplace, can still own their market with just a word.

Google (Est. 1998): Google is probably the largest, most influential company in the world. How did they do it? Google owns the word “search,” and they created a massive global market search engine presence because of it. This has become so prevalent, businesses and users online around the world have become dependent on search for everyday use. Since January of 2013, Google purchased 21 companies, and one for $3.2 billion. Do you think they own their market? — Ah… Yeah.

YouTube (Est. 2005): YouTube was established just nine years ago in the midst of what I like to call the “social revolution.” “Video” is the word they own like no other company. Here’s a few statistics that show YouTube is a market leader. YouTube has 4-billion video views per day, 6 billion hours watched per month and amazingly, 83 percent of Generation Z and 70 percent of millennials visit YouTube monthly. They didn’t write the book on video, they created the global video platform nearly every generation alive today uses.

A business analyst I am not. However, when it comes to deciphering whether or not these companies are successful in their market, I am confident in saying they own their word and their market as a result. If you’re in business and reading this article, and you’re unsure as to whether you should own a word in your market or not, keep in mind the behemoth companies listed above at one point were young startups. Remember, you have to start somewhere, so you might as well start with a word.

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