Think Outside The Pyramid
A Brand Rant
Enough love. Enough living. Enough life. Enough fulfillment. Enough potential. Yes, people will tell you they like these things. They do like these things. Who doesn’t? The problem is when you ladder any product benefit up high enough, it starts to mean nothing. A deodorant brand does not help customers feel fulfilled. Yes, in theory, it can help me feel more confident, which can lead to specific positive moments or experiences, which could potentially alter the trajectory of my life. But that’s mostly a ridiculous leap.
Unfortunately countless brand marketers seem to think making this leap is brand strategy. Slapping the words love or life on the top of a pyramid is not an action plan. I’ve seen so much brilliant work lost because people were scared to commit to language or ideas deemed as too limiting. It’s sad. it’s frustrating. It’s cowardly. It’s lazy.
Higher order branding is important. But it’s only one piece of the pie. Terms like love, live, life, fulfillment, better, more, forward, for all, everyone, the world — they’re all nice thoughts. But let’s please not hang our hats on these. True brand strategy does not resemble a tagline. True brand strategy is about standing for a distinct idea that people can understand and identify with. It’s about uncovering those bits that are authentic and unique to your product, service or company and then creatively celebrating those. It’s about understanding how your product or service actual fits into people’s lives and tapping into larger culture shifts. It’s about setting clear direction that allows people to do cool shit that makes sense.
Mass adoption is, and has never been, instantaneous. Brands can not be all things to all people. Let’s please stop trying to achieve this. It results in meaning nothing to everybody. Let’s start by trying to be the right thing for the right people. It’s surprising how much the world respects brands that know who they are, where they fit and what they stand for.
I stumbled upon this little rant doing some digital spring cleaning yesterday. It’s much angrier than I typically am; if I remember right I penned it up after a very frustrating meeting. Thought I’d share here as I haven’t posted in a while. If you’re facing similar challenges just know you’re not alone.