Surface Level Advice

Hey, it’s Haley here. I’m gonna get on a soapbox for just a quick second…

I saw a post the other day giving some blanket statement, surface level branding advice. The advice was, if you’re too afraid of pissing people off, you can’t win anyone over. (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the long and short of it.)

I don’t disagree with this, but people do it completely and totally wrong. (We’ll get to that in a second) but this is one of my main issues with people dishing out branding advice. On a surface level, most of this shit sounds awesome. But it lacks depth, and lacks the nuance you need to actually put this into place.

So you say to yourself, “man, that’s a good idea. I’m gonna go piss some people off.” and then you do it the completely wrong way, with no strategy, no real plan to execute, and no idea if it’s actually how you should be doing it.

So, how do people get it wrong? The first thing I see, is they think “taking a stand.” means posting their political beliefs, non-stop, every single day, to “weed out the wrong people.”

You may weed out some people that fundamentally disagree with you, but you’re lack of tact, and basic social awareness is going to weed out people that would normally love to work with you too.

The second thing: Jumping on bandwagons. If pretty basic things like not being a racist, homophobe, general piece of shit, isn’t already blatantly obvious as a core belief of your brand, jumping to some social cause out of nowhere as one gets popular, is going to make you look like you’re doing it for the clout. This is going to backfire, tremendously.

The third thing: If you don’t have the authority to be speaking on a topic, just shut up. I’m loud, and overly opinionated, but I know when to keep my mouth shut when I’m out of my lane of expertise.

Example: When Starbucks all of the sudden wants to coach customers on how to be anti-racist, even though they mean well, it completely backfires. They’re a coffee company. Stay in that lane. Tell me free-trade coffee is better, and the story behind that, and why you only sell free-trade coffee. I’ll believe you, I promise. Cause I have no idea about it. But Starbucks, I imagine has some authority in that area, so I’d listen to them.

Blanket advice, put into action in place of a REAL brand strategy, is going to hurt you. It’s going to hurt your brand, and it’s going to hinder your growth. Advice like this gets great engagement on social media, but that’s about all it’s good for. So before you go listening to marketers say dumb shit like “plant your flag!” or “just be authentic.” ask yourself what that REALLY looks like, for you. Not anyone else.

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