Are You Branding with fear?
All our clients want breakthrough ideas.
They tell us that they have hired us to give them out-of-the-box solutions. They want innovative thoughts, which will dent the universe.
The key assumption is that any innovative idea will not cost them anything to market their brand.
A client hired us to write some crucial piece of branding communication and also
informed us that he wants something creative, dynamic and attention getting
– a compelling expression of the product’s personality.
The competitive products were in media, and the only way to hit back was to
come up with a super innovative proposition.
As soon as we submit exactly that, however, we’re met by a wave of
“What if people think that we’re too creative or too smart?”
“Are we looking like a respectable corporate house?”
“But none of our competitors have used such advertising in past?
“Maybe we should just do what our competitors do; would you mind studying their websites and their past advertising? We just need to be a bit better than them.”
“This is our first time; let’s not take any risk.”
Our response tends to be: You’re the boss. But since, we pretty much spend
every day thinking about what makes branding effective and how a different
communication can light a fire under people, we urge you to reconsider.
Your competitor’s site?- As dull as yesterday’s newspaper. Also, they’re trying to
be all things to all people; they are boring, uninspiring, plain information
Our customer is tired of listening to the same boring language – “highest quality”, “industry leader”, “commitment to excellence”, “years of experience”,
“solutions-oriented”, “synergy-driven”, “testimonials”, along with some
purchased images. We defy the average visitor to recall a single phrase from
such a sleep inducing marketing jargon.
The desire to appeal to the widest possible client base is understandable but
branding yourself requires you to do at least two things:
1. Clearly differentiate yourself from the pack, and
2. Figure out who your ideal clients are and speak directly to them.
Shirking these tasks and retreating to the safe middle ground is what we call
“branding with fear.”
And though you may feel you’re just playing it safe, this kind of branding is actually toxic to the development of your brand.
As the old saying goes, standing in the middle of the road only means you’ll
be hit by traffic in both directions.
“I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing,” Stephen King
says in his wonderful 2000 book On Writing. Clearly, he’s talking about
timidity, the insecurity that makes us doubt ourselves and also abandon our very
substance to feed some hollow myth about audience expectations.
But if you’ve had sufficient confidence to launch a marketing campaign, you
should be able to summon the self-assurance to brand yourself with equal
confidence, which will customers sit up and think about your proposition.
Should your marketing materials be direct and also funny, edgy and irreverent?
Sure, if that’s the tone your target audience responds to.
Should they be sensitive and passionate? Absolutely, if that will connect to your consumer.
Should they be touching a raw nerve or use modern-day jargon?
Yes, yes. Anything that makes you different and also awesome.
What calls out to the most discerning consumers? Authenticity. Originality.
Boldness. Even Audacity.
Provide new thinking patterns. Have the courage
of your convictions and proceed accordingly. You will not fail.
In short, fear not. Create your own magic, not yawns!
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About the author: Hemant is the Founder & CEO of branding and marketing firm ”Neeti Brand Accelerator” in Mumbai. He is a brand strategist and has worked with more than 150 brands during last two decades. He is also mentor and coach to SMEs and startups. You can visit the website www.neeti.biz. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org