Brownstone Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Why Your Brand Shouldn’t Please All The People All The Time

There’s a big mistake marketers and advertisers make and that is trying to please everyone. The fact of the matter is – not only is this impossible but you risk turning your brand into the advertising equivalent of blancmange in the process.

The better you and your agency are at creating a clear brand position, the more likely it is that you are going to find a group of people who really don’t like you. This is no bad thing. As Bill Cosby once said: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

Bold brand position comes from a place of accepting the fact that there will be some people who hate you – but you understand the people who love you. Look at the brands with strong position – Apple, Mercedes, Virgin, Red Bull and Kim Kardashian – all create a love/hate dynamic but whichever side of the dynamic you’re on – you remember them!

In this market, playing it safe with your branding translates into a weak brand. If you want customers to want what you have you have to accept that some will hate you. You can turn this to your advantage as did US sporting apparel company And1. When it came to the meaning behind the company’s name they responded “If you don’t know what it means, we don’t want you wearing our shoes.” Controversial? Yes. Offensive? Sure. Brand building? Absolutely!

Playing it safe often means clients looking at what a competitor is doing and trying to emulate that. Here’s the problem with the strategy that goes ‘We want to emulate what . . . (insert here the name of the brand leader in your sector) . . . is doing.’ The fact is the market already has someone in your sector doing what you want to do with your brand on doing it very very well indeed. The market doesn’t need another one. If you base your own strategy on what they are doing then you emerge as a pale imitation and lose the opportunity to create your own unique identity which could in the long term propel your brand into the number 1 position.

The key to successful branding is to be true to who and what you are as it is in life. We don’t necessary go through life expecting everybody to like us. If they don’t we usually dismiss it as their problem – not ours. If someone doesn’t like your brand provided you are constantly improving and evolving what you do – then let this work for you. If someone doesn’t like the way you market yourself – that’s fine. They are not your target audience.

Know your brand and then know why your audience would love it. Brands that target very specific audiences stand for something – that’s called brand value. Those who don’t stand for anything or target too generally, have little or no value.

Travelling safe path, although it may be tempting, is always a bad bet. Like people, brands are defined by the company they keep. But they’re also defined by the company they don’t keep. The bottom line is – there are some customers that will make your brand look bad.