The truth about your brand (It's not what you might think it is)
Last summer, I went to visit a new friend in Oslo.
He picked me up from the airport, but before we could go to his cottage, he had to shop for groceries. (At the time, he didn’t know that I hate supermarkets and do all my shopping online.)
When we arrived at Oslo central station, I was feeling pretty fried from airport security, duty-free shops (a bottle of wine for the host), and navigating the train.
The supermarket was buried inside a shopping mall and crowded with parents pushing strollers with screaming children. Not great.
He asked me to come inside, so I could pick what I wanted to eat (I have a sensitive gut, and things like sugar and grains are off the menu). But as soon as I entered, my head started spinning. Facing all these options made me feel overwhelmed – I had to leave.
I ended up squatting in a dark corner by the elevator, my face buried behind oversized sunglasses. I was trying to focus on my breathing, so I wouldn’t collapse into a fetal position.
All the people, sounds, and colors made my nervous system overstimulated.
When he came out with all the bags, he looked at me with surprise and compassion.
I explained. He understood immediately, took my hand, and led me to the nearest exit.
I'm known for being highly sensitive.
When I asked 14 friends and clients how they would describe me, five of them said I'm sensitive. It was closely followed by powerful and devoted, scoring two points each.
I like to keep sensitive, however, because there is so much noise, we can only remember one word per brand.
Veteran copywriter Mark Frenske says that first, you need to write down the truest thing about your brand.
Not what you want to be true, but what is already an established truth in people’s minds.
The truth already exists: it’s what the market thinks about you:
Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.”
What customers think about your brand consists of how you show up–consistently and over time.
Energy speaks louder than words.
Consumers are smart. We all have highly-sensitive BS detectors. The more authentic you can be, fully owning all parts of you, the more people will love you.
Want to find out what your friends, clients, and readers think about you? Ask!
I sent all my peeps a WhatsApp message, asking them to describe me in three adjectives.
Their responses surprised and delighted me.
Our responses to brands can be as emotional as they’re to other humans.
Even when a brand is not associated with a specific person (such as Coca-Cola, Apple, or Nike), we still associate adjectives with them as if they were human.
Companies spend millions of advertising dollars to make them look good (read: likable).
As an entrepreneur, you can learn from big, established brands.
One thing is that you become more likable when you don’t take yourself too seriously.
Let’s look at how Crocs did that.
Their rubber shoes are comfortable, sure.
But what is even truer? They’re ugly AF. SO unsexy.
The brand owned that truth. Since the market had already established it, they went with it.
In their advertising, Crocs announce their shoes as “the most effective birth control.”
The big idea?
People often cheer for the underdog. No one likes brands that put themselves on a pedestal.
You can also show some color in your brand stories and tell us about parts of you that are not so glamorous.
Like me crouching on the floor of the Oslo train station… it makes you more human, and humans by from other humans.
So be your messy, authentic self. We will love you even more for it.
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