Why your brand needs to tell some people to piss off

25 May

TrespassingWhen we work on a client’s brand strategy we spend a good deal of time defining most desired audience (i.e. people who will love them). We make great progress defining socio-economic traits, demographics, psychographics (and any other graphics we can come up) for both desired and, more importantly, undesired audience.

When the new brand is applied, however, more often than not, it doesn’t tell the undesired audience to piss off – generally because once marketing has presented the brand roadmap to their company, their company has a different focus, which usually sounds like this: Any Business Is Good Business.

Translation: Welcome undesirable audience!

By doing so, the company can make short-term gains and look good to its investors, but in the long-term, they’re not doing themselves any favors. They aren’t creating a tribe of advocates. By appealing to everyone, they water down their brand personality. What’s worse is that they draw in an audience that is guaranteed to not love them. Which continues the cycle of escalating advertising and marketing costs, new customer acquisition programs and high churn rates.

Instead, if they are clear from the outset about whom they don’t want, they’ll appeal more to those whom they do want. Those people (while a smaller group than ‘everyone’) are the ones who have the potential to love them, and are much more likely to become advocates of the brand. And it doesn’t take a genius to understand that if customers love you, they’ll tell their friends about you, which reduces advertising costs, reliance on new customer acquisition programs and customer churn.

So why aren’t brands boldly saying ‘you’re not for me’. Probably because we’re too focused on short-term results, and the fear that telling some people they aren’t for us will cause bad publicity. After all, who doesn’t want to be liked by everyone?


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