Think about the most popular kid you went to school with — they were memorable because they were a great athlete/musician/artist/schmoozer. They did things that made everyone either love them or hate them. It’s not about being everyone’s friend. They stood out in a way that makes you still remember them years later.
In Why It’s Better For Your Career to Be Loathed Than Liked via Forbes, marketers like Erika Napoletano and Saul Colt give insight on how they’ve made a business for themselves on getting noticed and staying far away from the middle of the road. Saul explains, “I never worry about my stunts alienating people because my strategy has always been to be the best in the world at a highly desirable skill and create stuff no one has seen before with amazing results for the people I work with/for.” There’s no time for modesty, shame or pride when you are trying to make a splash.
When it comes to being a brand, it’s harder to earn the superlative title of “best” or “most.” Competition is tough and taking risks is…risky. But with great risk, comes great reward. Here a few of my favorite examples of brands that made me take notice.
Notice me, literally.
Movember makes a scene every year when they convince the men in our lives to grow a mustache and raise money for men’s health issues. When it comes to mustaches, you either into ‘em or not. And when you see a formerly clean-shaven face with a new stash, it starts conversation. You’ll donate, you’ll listen and you’ll maybe even pay them a compliment. Suddenly, everyone’s talking about the art of the mustache, men’s health and Movember.
Pick a side.
The choice to sport a mustache might be polarizing in style, but the cause is rarely questioned. But brands like Chick-fil-A and Oreo have made a bold choice to get noticed by picking a side on a polarizing social issue. Personally, I don’t think gay marriage, chicken sandwiches and Oreos make for a logical combination, but both brands chose to share their opinion publicly. They were honest about who they are as a company and how they felt. It was humanizing for the brands. Both spurred major debate and they were part of conversation in a big way.
As Oscar Wilde says, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” Which side would you rather be on?
Let your freak flag fly.
Of course, I am biased on this one because Southwest Airlines is our client, but fly Southwest Airlines just once and there’s no denying the personality of the brand. From singing/rapping/joke-telling flight attendants to the executive chairman and president dressing up as the Addams family, it’s why you love Southwest. They surprised people by not charging for bags when everyone else was making more money off their customers. They don’t even charge you for changing your flight. They are different. In a competitive industry, they’ve created brand loyalty and made people enjoy flying again by being incredibly different than the rest.
Drawing attention to yourself, picking a side or daring to be different is meaningless if you can’t back it up. All of the examples prove that these brands are comfortable with who they are, what they offer and what they want to do. They are willing to risk not being liked and that’s what makes people like them even more.