Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Does the High Concept Matter in 2007?

This blog is called "The High Concept". The background behind that name is that at Roeder-Johnson (our firm), we have always believed that communications around a high concept that can serve as the umbrella for an organization is important. When a friend (one of the best VC's I know) asked me to write a short, simple "manifesto” (that's his word), I thought it was a good time to reexamine our view of the world as it has come to be.

Therefore, the core question is: Does the High Concept Matter in 2007? In a word: yes. The high concept matters now more than ever.

Why? With so much communication and clutter of ideas, having thoughtful, distinctive communications is critical You can't possibly expect journalists or your other audiences to remember all the details of what you are saying.

When people ask me for an example of this being done well in recent years I almost always point to (not our client --choosing one of our clients feels like it would be cheating). "Software is dead": you remember that and the basic idea, even if you don't remember or care about the minutia of the story.

But, don't get me wrong. We are fully aware that for each constituency, there is almost always more detail needed to tell the whole story. But, at the end of the day, it's important to make remembering the details simple.

I am sure there are some doubters. For example, what about some of the companies that have done it without a fancy "high concept"? Are you thinking of YouTube, Google, or MySpace? Each of them embodies their High Concept.

And what about arguments like Peter Rip's that start ups can "double their valuation" by being focused and not being too theoretical? Well, a high concept doesn’t need to be theoretical. It just needs to be simple and absorbable.

And finally, what is the benefit? If you make it easy for people to put a basic construct around you, you are likely to enjoy the benefits of leadership:

o higher product prices
o better partners
o better employees
o lower cost of capital

And what executive doesn’t want all of those things?


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