We believe that your company is ultimately defined by what you do, not what you say. People often talk about a company’s brand as if it is something that was created by the marketing team. We couldn’t disagree with this concept more. Your brand is ultimately defined by how your customers think about your products and services.
We are constantly asking our customers for feedback. “How are things going?”, “What can we do better?”, “What problems are you facing?”. When it comes to long-time customers and new customers alike, the single sound bite we hear more than any other about Gnip goes like this: “you guys do exactly what you said you do.” In other words, there are no surprises. We hear this time-and-time again and the words are almost exactly the same each time.
I’ll admit that I sometimes wish our sound bite contained more flashy content and included words like “amazing” or “brilliant”. The reality is that we aren’t a flashy company. And, the results aren’t surprising because we actually strive to do what we say we are going to do. We don’t over promise and under deliver. We just say what we do and do it.
This stuff doesn’t happen by accident. It comes with careful planning and requires some tough trade-offs. As one example, earlier this year we announced the availability of our 30-Day Historical Replay for Twitter product. The product had been in the works for almost a year. We opened the product in beta form to a handful of customers 3 months before we put the product in full production and we made no announcement at the time. What you may find surprising is that we put the product in production six weeks before we made the announcement. If you follow the software industry at all, you probably recognize how rare it is to announce a product weeks AFTER it has been released. But, if you are committed to doing what you say you do, this is one of the trade-offs you make. Saying what you are going to do before a customer can realize any benefit is not consistent with how our customers think about Gnip so we don’t do it.
There are many more examples of these types of tradeoffs. Was it tempting to announce Historical Replay sooner? Absolutely. But, we are building a company that is based upon long-term customer relationships and trust. Our customers are on the cutting edge of a very important, fast-growth industry. They are trying to solve incredibly difficult challenges while dealing with constant change and endless unknowns. The last thing customer’s need is more noise, hype, or confusion. We continue to work hard to reduce the noise and focus on the facts. When you consider that dynamic, “doing what you say you do” is a pretty flashy sound bite after all.