Fitting In to Stand Out

Monday, July 13, 2015

Life comes with an unfortunate contradiction built into it. We all want to fit in… and we all want to stand out. It’s one of those eternal conflicts, like the one football fans face when they scream at a referee to “be consistent” yet also to exercise discretion, ‘interpret’ the rules and “show some common sense”.

PR and Marketing Managers face that first conflict on a daily basis. Demands are made of them to avoid ruffling any feathers or creating any potential for negative feedback… while at the same time they’re expected to generate an impact for their brand.

The thing is – all opportunity comes with risk so eliminating risk also means eliminating opportunity. If you accept that people have different tastes, styles and preferences then you have to accept that they will also react differently to the message or content that you put out there. Brands shouldn’t be afraid of losing some people along the way; it’s a natural part of finding the correct audience for you.

Think of a dating site profile. What you’re trying to do is find the match for you. Imagine if every time you were about to give some information about yourself, you stopped and thought…

“But what if some people don’t like Italian food?”

“But what if some people don’t like movies?”

“But what if some people don’t like breathing?”

Keep on with that approach and eventually you’ll have a profile which couldn’t possibly offend anyone in the entire world or mark you out as any different from anyone else. You’ll also have a profile which nobody will ever react positively to either, because you’ve given no real idea of who you actually are or who you’re looking to meet.

The chances are that you’d come across as:

a) Boring

b) Desperate

c) Bland to the point of actually being pretty weird (Remember any Physics teacher)

Is that really how you want your brand to come across? We doubt it. Thankfully, the solution is pretty simple.

  • You want to come across as thought leaders? Then give your opinions.
  •  You want to come across as in tune with your customers? Then reflect their interests.
  •  You want to come across as distinct from your competitors? Then be distinct from your competitors.

Remember, the aim of any content you put out – be it a blog post or a social media post – is not to avoid reaction, it’s to get a reaction. So long as the post isn’t discriminatory or at odds with your brand principles or those of your target market then putting out something which generates a reaction will help you to find the right people and stop you wasting your time hedging your bets on the wrong people.