What a stray cat has taught me about taking a brand stand
Updated: Jan 5
Last night, Hemingway was attacked by a stray. At around 9 pm, I heard vicious screams outside my bedroom window. In a panic, I pushed it open and saw a white furball enmeshed in something black. I yelled, “Hemmy!” to which the fighting stopped.
The tomcat took a few steps back, glaring at me with yellow eyes. I hissed at him like a wolverine defending her cups.
He eventually disappeared into the shadows. Hemingway took a few steps in his direction, but then considered the matter done. The invader had been chased off his territory. As I opened the front door to coax him inside, he hesitated.
I picked him up and coddled his soft shape. His hindlegs and butt were soaking wet.
The poor little guy was in such a shock, he’d peed himself. Feeling helpless, I wanted to smother him with motherly love. But my inner voice told me to I let him be.
After a while, however, he joined me upstairs. With his backside still wet, he smelled of cat pee as he jumped onto the bed covered in our finest mohair blanket. Oh well. Then he started licking himself, purring with contentment.
In the morning, his chatting woke me up. I was still dark outside.
I didn’t even check the time -- I just knew I needed more sleep. So I petted him, hoping he’ll get sleepy. Instead, he drooled onto my hands. We dozed off for a bit, but soon the meowing started again.
When dawn came, I felt safe to let him roam again. (And slept for another three hours.)
Oh well, I’d go sleepless every night of the week only to protect Hemingway. The things we do for love...
When we deeply care about something, we stand up and fight for those things, am I right?
Whether it is a beloved pet, social injustice, or strong environmental values.
It’s the same with your brand.
To stand out, you have to stand for something. Here are some examples of famous brand stands.
Apple beliefs that privacy is a fundamental human right. When you use Safri as your browser, it prevents hundreds of digital attacks each week. They also fight Facebook on this matter, preventing the platform to access your private data on iPhone apps, for example.
Starbucks beliefs in creating a culture of warmth and belonging. I remember when I first set foot into a Starbucks in the year 2000. I’d moved to Brighton (for school), and loved the cozy atmosphere of the place. With its jazzy music, comfy sofas, and warm colors, I felt so home I didn’t want to leave. (Subsequently spending £3.75 every other day on cappuccino!)
Adidas beliefs that through sport, we have the power to changes lives. The company has taken a big stand on sustainability, recycling over 11 million plastic bottles (that had ended up in our oceans!) to make sneakers. Thank you, Adidas, I will always love you for this.
And remember when Dove first launched their Real Beauty campaign?
Dove believes that there’s nothing more beautiful than being yourself. In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with images of perfect bodies (Wait, you didn’t get ass-implants yet?), their marketing gives us permission to be ourselves, without pushing ourselves to fit beauty standards that don’t vibe.
They also stand with the LGBTQIA+ community. On their website, they write, “We’re standing with courageous BIPOC queer, trans, and GNC community figures because everyone deserves to be respected and seen on their own terms.” Cool, huh?
So what do YOU stand for?
What core beliefs and values would you (or your brand) defend in a cage fight?
Write them all down. Then pick one or two that you feel strongest about.
Here are three questions to kick-start your thinking:
-What does your brand want to change in the world?
-What emotional problem does your brand solve?
-What big and difficult questions are you willing to ask?
Don’t be afraid to think different. It’s what makes you interesting and noteworthy. The most profitable brands create an impact by going against the grain.
Once you’re clear on your brand stand, communicate these values in your marketing. Put 'em on your website, share them in your emails, and talk about them during coffee chats.
This is what you become known for, and people will talk about you.
Ready to stand out? Stop being boring.
The stray cat was not afraid to shake things up, and neither should you.
PS: Want help defining your stand-out factor? I’ve got three spots for brand consulting clients this month. Click here to grab one.