Out With Boring, How Do I Make My Brand Exciting!
Unless your brand is rocking the boat and making waves, you’ve sold yourself short on your advertising and marketing campaigns. If that’s you, you need this rectification like a symphony needs violins. Or, if guitar is more your thing, your brand still needs rectification like a riff needs a Les Paul.
Strap yourself in and prepare to be blown away in this rock symphony of brand energy.
Let’s Go Back To The Start. Why Creativity Matters
If you sell luxury products or are building a luxury brand, this post could be the most important you’ll read in a while so buckle up.
BMW can engineer cars about as well as Mercedes Benz can engineer them, and both of them about as well as Jaguar can. The differentiator in the selling power of these equally solid brands, is going to come down to creativity in the execution.
Creativity pays. Ask Nike. Or Apple.
In the end, I won’t so much give you the copy or brand images to use to raise sales for your products, as give you the blueprint that unlocks your creativity and genius in pushing your brand far beyond where you ever thought possible.
Ask Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor who plays The Most Interesting Man In The World for his take, and he will tell you, “It’s foolish to compare interesting – either you are, or you aren’t. There’s no secret to the recipe.”
Before we proceed, just a word that this is not some secret program or psychological mumbo-jumbo. What we are doing can be simply described as changing the approach you take to marketing your brand, from the roots up.
That means we start with a radically different foundation to most marketing you might have done, and therefore wind up at a drastically different destination. One, hopefully, where you can sell more than ever before.
Take A Page From The Most Interesting Man In The World And Prepare To Be Different
Marketing professionals and brand owners gravitate towards the ordinary. After all, if you are in charge of a $10 million or more revenue a year brand, you don’t want to do anything that might alienate your target market. The bigger your brand, think Coca-Cola, the more conservative your advertising tends to be.
It takes a bold and brash brand owner like Steve Jobs with his incredible vision for the Apple brand to drive a brand identity that can stand out amidst the crowd of cookie cutter marketing messages.
When it rolled out, the Most Interesting Man In The World campaign would go on to double sales for Dos Equis beer, and unlocking a phenomenal 15% year-on-year growth at a time the rest of the industry was only growing 2%. With brand growth like that, Dos Equis went from a no-name beer, to the sixth biggest import beer in the United States. Pretty impressive for a guy who “doesn’t normally drink beer”.
Yet the Most Interesting Man In The World advertising campaign deliberately avoided the cliches that were the staples of beer advertising: flashy sports cars, women in revealing clothes, and dropped young men for a much older character with a unique take on beer, and life.
“This work showed us all the value of breaking out of category cliché and convention,” according to Susan Giannino, Publicis Worldwide Chairman. “It also showed us the power of hyperbole when it is expressed masterfully.”
Could The Most Interesting X Formula Work For You?
Chances are, your brand, whether you’re in fashion, autos or hotels, is effectively on auto-pilot. Sure, you are marketing and advertising it, but you’re not growing, and there’s no growth in excitement for your brand in your target market. The same is likely the case if you’re in financial services, information publishing or travel.
Brands that make their bread and butter by selling to a corporate audience often make the mistake of “trying to be like everyone else”.
That can get you promotions in accounting or engineering, but as any salesmen worth his salt will attest, nothing repels that creature called “the consumer” faster.
If your advertising department looks anything at all like your legal department or engineering department, you are likely trying to sell using the cookie-cutter method. Guess what? That only comes out as boring to consumers. Sell like everyone else, and you will have a market share like everyone else, or worse.
The Most Interesting Man In The World shows you a way out of the doldrums. Going bold and brash like that could vault you to the top position in your field. The key is to studiously avoid the cliches of your industry. Start with a blank slate, and, if it’s helpful, imagine you were marketing in a completely different country and different culture. What would your product’s promises look like then? What would you play up? What would you get rid of entirely?
Maybe your copy would look less like a corporate meeting, and more like the Most Interesting Man In The World:
“When he goes to Spain, he chases the bulls”
“Once he ran a marathon because it was ‘on the way’”
“Bear hugs are what he gives bears”
Moving Beyond Formula: Here’s The Blueprint For Creativity And A Heart-Melting Brand.
It looks like a secret but it’s not so much a secret as an ignored reality. People like Oprah, Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer have mastered the art of getting a market to fall in love. Call it seduction in a business context.
Steve Ballmer had it really tough. Try making Windows XP sexy to a Fortune 500 corporate division? Microsoft’s dominance in enterprise I.T. is testament to how well Ballmer succeeded at this uphill task.
Your challenge, if you accept it, is no less daunting: getting customers to fall head-over-heels with X Company brand, where X Company is your very own problem child brand, dear reader.
I can see your incredulous smile. What will it take for the market to show your brand some love? Well, if Ballmer did it in a field as boring as I.T., surely you and yours stand a better chance! Let’s see how it’s done. This next part is critical!
If There’s A Secret, It’s To Learn A New Mode Of Signaling That’s Called: “Communicate Love To Your Customers’ Brains”
This one is tough and you might not get it until you’ve had a beer or two, but read it over again until it kind of sinks in. This is the most important section of this entire masterclass.
I came up with that atrocious name for it, but that’s because it’s a good description of the effect this new form of communication has, in your copy, positioning, brand image, everything. But the concept itself is old like a hit song from the 40s that most wunderkids today have no idea even exists. It’s not a secret, just an old, discarded piece of expertise.
But those who are the most popular in their fields do this every day.
Elon Musk. A model for geeks.
Mel Robbins. Exemplary ambassador for the entrepreneurial.
Nike. Can you even think of a different partner for your endeavors if you are an athlete.
Oprah, top of the heap. Such a good example.
Sadly, most of you are the wrong demographic for Oprah so you’ve likely never sat down for an entire episode of the Oprah Show. In the process, you also skipped out on a masterclass from the world class expert in “communicating love to your customers’ brains”. Note, I didn’t say hearts. There’s a reason for that. The Fortune 500 CEOs Ballmer was selling Windows to have brains, thank you very much. And they very much like to use them.
If, like most, you are selling to the heart, you’re gonna go right over their heads. Not effective!
You need to get into their heads, but in a good way, like fans at a Los Angeles Lakers game. Or Oprah fangirls. See, you really should have binge watched the Oprah Show earlier in your marketing career. Too late now to remedy that.
But why would you use this communication mode, and what is love to a customers’ brains?
We’ve been taught to ignore customers’ brains and go for their hearts instead.
Yes, you must make emotional appeals, but you yourself must be in firm brain territory. Only then can you unpack what’s going on in your customers’ brains and rationalizes all their emotions.
The truth is, customers put up all these barriers to you and your product or message, and these barriers we are talking about, are all in their head. So unless you can do something about that, you might as well be communicating with a rock.
The thing is, your customer is beset by these core brain/psychological barriers that block all but the brands and signals they already love
- fear (they are afraid you are just out to scam them)
- protective of their time
In their minds, since you’re not on the list of “things they love”, the things they already love, you and your product and services can only be a threat. You threaten their security, fulfillment, time, money, wallets, and you might even sell to them! Eww.
Hopefully you can see now what a formidable task it is going to be to break into your prospective customers’ minds! And you can’t break in, because if you break in, you won’t win them.
Pay attention now, this is why a customer can hear 100 advertising campaigns and totally ignore them, because those products and brands are not on The List, so they get tuned out.
To get your point across, you need a totally different approach.
The words you use and the signals you send are making them tune out of your copy because you are reinforcing all these barriers when you go to sell them your stuff.
Why don’t we see a different approach that deals with this problem at its root causes?
The only way to break through the wall this time is to coax. But you are not going to trick anyone, you are going to genuinely rework your entire approach to suit the audience. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Here, your potential customers only want things they already love. You’ve got something else they could love, if only they were aware of it. A neat clothing brand, a whiskey, a watch brand, a hotel, spa, whatever.
You need to send your customers a love message. Remember those barriers? You target customers’ brains must read a love message, and so your entire communication must change to provide that.
How do you send a love message to customers’ protective brains?
Funny you should ask! This is 2017 and everything is possible after all!
You beam love to them by composing and spreading a heart-warming symphony that
- captures their imaginations
- makes them believe again
- frees them from their jaded self
- makes them truly live again
Capturing the imagination
Capturing the imagination is hard but it’s the key to the customer love game. There’s a reason so many guys are fans of James Bond. James Bond appeals to their imaginations.
Ditto Jack Daniels, or Marlboro cigarettes. You should spend a bit of time studying these brands to see what spreading a message of love to customers’ brains looks like.
The Most Interesting Man In The World is good at capturing the imagination. Maybe you can create such a persona for your brand. That well might appeal to your market.
Making prospects believe again. WARNING: If your product is ordinary, you will do well to replace it. Pity the customer who believes in a mediocre product.
Making your prospects believe again helps you, and them. Nothing for a biker like stumbling into a bike shop with a fresh set of wheels they are enthusiastic about. A gamer stumbling on a remarkable find. But that takes standing out from the crowd. Your product better be not average or ordinary.
Maybe you should revisit your product at this point. Is it anything to write home about?
Most products are not. And so, maybe they deserve to struggle in the market! They will fall roughly where they deserve, which may not be very far from the proverbial apple tree.
If you want breakthrough marketing, then you had better be prepared to put the work into a breakthrough product. That’s just not the popular thing to say, but it’s what many of you need to hear.
You can’t pretend you are a major league player when you have a D-league product.
Remember that famous statement, “On the internet no-one knows you are a dog”?
Well, if you are building a luxury brand I got news for you. This is not the internet (yeah I know it is), but now your customers have been burned enough times and they know if you are a dog!
Do yourself a favor, and invest into creating the most premium quality product you can. It had better be good. Your reputation will live or die on the impressions those first buyers have after actually using the product.
“Your market is jaded. You need to bring some fresh new jazz”
If you play the same tune everyone else is playing, you will be out of a stage very soon. And there will be no sales in your pipeline.
It’s amazing how many brands settle for boring in their copy, when customers have made it clear over and over again.
They are so done with boring! You had better ditch that “safe”, boring image and get some fireworks.
You want to see brands that are NOT boring, that got fireworks?
“Makes them truly live again”
Design something special in the experience or the packaging.
When you buy a pair of shoes or outdoor pants from the American outdoors outfitter L.L. Bean, the product comes with a lifetime guarantee. This company does business better than your great grandpa’s village store ever did it, let alone today’s fickle corporations. It’s like stepping into another world.
This writer returned an old pair of shoes to the company years after they were bought from L.L. Bean, and got a brand new replacement, plus free shipping, no questions asked.
What kind of customer will not feel like they are some kind of princess or prince when you do that kind of thing for them?
“Making customers feel more alive?” Yeah, like a breeze in their hair. Oh as Neil Young would say, “Like A Hurricane”.
“We’re the only company I know of that completely empowers the customer to determine what satisfaction means to them,” L.L. Bean spokesperson Mac McKeever told Business Insider in August.
L.L. Bean is such an usual brand for getting this right, and it’s time you followed their example.
Brands that do this win. And they are not boring.
Your Move. Time To Adopt A New Media Playbook For Your Marketing Campaigns
The traditional media and advertising playbook involves bludgeoning prospects with your message until they buy your product. Such an approach is lacking in tact and in an understanding of what builds long-term brand equity.
The best luxury brands are not after the one quick sale. They are after life-long brand loyalists, who will buy their products and share the experience with the brand.
Tear out this page and stick it in your media playbook. It will change your brand.
And throw out the old playbook, the one that involves forcing people or “tricking” them. The old tricks are dying out, just so you know.
In the end, the brand that wins in this brave new world is the brand that builds up fans, NOT prisoners!