January 17, 2012

Embrace Danger

Tim Tebow is big news right now, not just in sports. About every news professional worth their weight mentions Tebow. Most people say it is because of “Tebowing”, but I think it is much more. In a time when the NFL has become so strict in the type of physical contact that is allowed during a game and the fact that quarterbacks usually leave the field with a perfectly clean uniform, Tim Tebow runs straight into the game with both faith and the physicality that is missing in many quarterbacks. He embraces the danger of the possibility of being physically hurt, but due to his strong personal beliefs, he embraces the danger of being himself.

Embracing that scary dangerous place – being “exposed” has made Tebow a household name, spawned a new verb and a website depicting people doing just that.  He’s become a phenomenon.  He is a branding sensation. I have been surrounded by some branding strategy or re-branding projects for months. This entire time I have been questioning whether branding is a fancy or a feeling. My final conclusion is a feeling. Tebow himself has no logo, tagline or description of why he plays the way he does or believes the way he does, it is simply the feelings he insights in other people.

Most marketers play it very safe when it comes to their overall brand image and are unwilling to embrace the danger of creating any feelings that are beyond comfortable. Some brands, like Google for instance in their longstanding Doodle for Google approach can extend themselves without much effort, but don’t go into dangerous territory.  Here are a few brands that embrace the danger:

  • Facebook – This seems like an odd choice, but give it some thought. They are the brand you love and hate at the same time. Why hate? Because they do what everyone else thinks is a personal violation to privacy. They stare down the notion that privacy is required.  To many, it is becoming less relevant thing if you choose to live in social media.  Every day, people license their content for Facebook to share and Facebook makes money doing it.
  • McDonalds – It does not matter what nutritionists say, they don’t apologize for the food they serve. Yes, they have added healthy options, but not at the expense of the tried and true, like the seemingly unkillable McRib. They embrace the danger of being compared to anything healthy. I am not sure I’ve read many articles that compare “their” healthy turkey burger on a whole wheat bun, to the Big Mac.
  • The Donald – Says what he means and means what he says. He is all about the danger and has become a huge household name.   You don’t have to like him, but he is as watchable as that roadside accident – you can’t help but watch.

I chose some large brands for my examples, but I wanted any reader of this post to resonate with the idea I am posing. I find that I frequent the locally owned businesses that are true to themselves. It is one of those locally owned business that has created such a deep sense of themselves in their brand, they finally decided to make the brand fancy with exciting new pieces of brand flare. I find that more success comes from sticking to those deeply held beliefs and it really doesn’t matter what feelings you incite in others. When you set fire to those feelings of excitement in a customer, which is how you create loyalty. Embrace the danger and create the feeling of your brand, the fancy will eventually come.


Having fun with your brand on Covalent’s own Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz’s blog:
Woot:  http://museandmaven.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/living-your-brand-values-part-three-involves-a-rapping-monkey/
Lush Natural Cosmetics:  http://museandmaven.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/and-another-example-of-living-your-brand-values/
The Peninsula Hotel: http://museandmaven.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/playfully-living-your-brand-peninsula-hotel-chicago/

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