"You can own the rain" is an inside joke that a good friend and I share—the punchline of an agency's pitch to a fashion apparel company many years ago.
While the story still makes me laugh, the strategy of "owning" a singular idea in consumers' minds couldn't be more on the mark. A single word or enlightened phrase can do more to define a company or product than all of the brand jargon you can squeeze into an 85-page deck.
Amazon.com owns "easy." Over a few bites of lunch, I can buy virtually anything with "one click" and have it delivered to my home in two days without a shipping charge.
What does MasterCard own? (Shame if you didn't answer "priceless.")
As simple as that sounds, most companies are afraid to pick such a singular idea, choosing instead to hedge their bets with a bland stew of characterless brand messages and attributes.
In London later this week, a group of artists are opening an exhibition that asks the thought-provoking question, "Who owns the moon?" Every time you look up in the night sky this year, think of that question and ask yourself: What will you own in 2014?
Then ask yourself: Why not shoot for the moon?