designing ebooks and other fun things


Is your brand afraid to shine?


Picture this: you are looking at an idea for your next promotion, or advertisement, or brochure. You like the idea. In fact, you like it a lot. It represents what your brand stands for. Very, very strongly and clearly. In fact, it might be a bit too strong.

And this is where the doubt creeps in.

What if it’s too strong? What if people don’t like it? What if someone doesn’t get it? What if it offends someone?

And so you do the most logical thing: you ask for feedback. And, of course, as it tends to be with strong messages, the feedback is varied. Some love it. Others hate it. Others still have all kinds of suggestions for improving it.

You can’t please everyone.

I know you have heard that before. But it’s more than that:

you don’t WANT to please everyone.

Trust me. (Or don’t. Just keep reading.)

A common solution is to water down the too strong message.

Water it down until you are sure it doesn’t offend or shock anyone.

Until it doesn’t go against anyone’s preferences.

Until you have incorporated everyone’s suggestions and created a nice composition of messages, bullet points, graphs and comparison charts. (A composition, the flow of which probably only makes sense to whoever was following the process, but I digress.)

Until there is only 1% of the original strength, controversy, shock, whatever – and the rest is BLAH.

99% of blah. That’s quite a concentration, isn’t it?

Until everyone agrees that it’s “nice.”

That polite “Oh, that’s nice” comment that we often get when asking for feedback, and (way too) often accept as a positive reaction, as an approval?

That is NOT something to strive for.

It’s something to run away from. As fast as you can.

“That’s nice” is a sign of indifference.

Now, there’s something to be afraid of!

Indifference means not being noticed. Indifference is shrugging and moving on. Indifference is not even remembering what it is you do.

There is absolutely nothing scarier for a brand than indifference.

Yet many are so afraid to displease someone, that they run the opposite way – straight into the arms of indifference.

I am not saying your brand should strive to shock and offend. I am saying that it should stand for something. That you should refine and distill your main message until there is absolutely no doubt what that message is. And to communicate it with every single customer encounter, real or virtual. Loud and clear, whatever reactions may come.

Because, believe it or not, even the most beloved brands have people who hate everything they do. With a passion.

You have to be prepared to accept both.

A strong brand is bound to have both love and hate, both awe and indignation, both eager surprise and disbelieving shock. It attracts both loyal fans and those who love to hate it.

For every strong positive reaction, there is a negative one.

Cherish them both. They are proof that your brand doesn’t leave people indifferent.


P.S. I feel so strongly about strong messages that I wrote a book. You can download it here.