Scott Goodson is the New York City-based founder and chairman of StrawberryFrog
“It’s pretty much understood that successful brands need to stand for something. People and companies which stand for an idea can spark mass universal movements and inspire fans and followers. Which is why it has become fairly common for companies to issue what they may imagine to be bold and principled declarations to the world—along the lines of: At Acme Amalgamated, we’re committed to X; We believe in Y; We care passionately about Z.
If you really want to connect with people and show the world what you believe in and stand for, you need to tell us what you stand for or against. Many brands are much more comfortable as brands of opposition rather than brands of proposition: they find it easier to source their energy, their edge and much of their character from standing up and fighting against a certain something, than they do from simply defining who they are and what they believe in.
Movements for brands ought to be based in real concerns and issues in the world of today. They can involve matters large or small, and the tone you take can be serious or more playful. Some recent examples include a campaign for IKEA took a stand against being a “grey mouse” (which is to say being timid and safe in one’s choices); a more recent one, for Sabra hummus, takes the form of a direct challenge, or intervention, against the boring, unadventurous eating habits.
I think the willingness of companies to take a stand for or against something is more important now than ever before. What has changed is that we are NOW living in the age of uprisings and people now want to participate in a conversation with brands; we as marketers are coming to understand this as the new reality of two-way communication. But to make this conversation (or any conversation) work, there must be an honest exchange of views. A big part of that is for both sides to be willing to say “I’m for this” and “I’m against that.”
Another thing to consider is that when you’re trying to build a cultural movement around your brand—which is something that I think we all should be striving to do—you need to give that movement a sense of purpose and action. And most often it is easier to rally people against something rather than for something—if you just think of some of the great popular and social movements through history, you will realise that, more often than not, these movements started out with acts of protest against something.”
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