Everyone wants to be liked.
The more friends, the better, right? Never want anyone to say something bad about you or voice displeasure at what you do or how you do it.
Well, it’s time to let that feeling go – and you can do it today before you finish your cup of coffee.
Your enemy mine
Having an enemy is often one of the best ways to solidify your own personal brand. We can’t be everything to everybody – nor do we want to be. And there are people or companies with whom we do not want our names aligned. In fact, anything negative coming from one of these entities is great news for our personal brand – it gives us the opportunity to consider the source and tell our audience, “Great – I’m glad they think that. Because I have a totally different approach that I think is more reasonable/is more customer focused/works better…and that’s what I stand for.”
Brands are best when they are authentic. And being authentic means that, at some point, you have to take a stand.
Now, before we go bashing our competition, it’s important to remember that everyone we have worked with or against, including our competitors, those we have managed, those who have managed us, or partnered with us – are people who have helped us define what we ultimately stand for. They help us decide what feels right and wrong, fair and unfair, honest and dishonest.
And if you do things differently than they do, there’s a reason for that – and that reason is brand authenticity – it’s what you believe is the best thing for yourself and your customers.
Scott Bedbury is a brand expert. He joined Nike Corp when it was a $700 million Seattle-based business, and left it a $4 billion global empire. These days, he’s the senior vice president of marketing at Starbucks. Here’s what he says:
“A great brand knows itself. Anyone who wants to build a great brand first has to understand who they are. You don’t do this by getting a bunch of executive schmucks in a room so they can reach some consensus on what they think the brand means. Because whatever they come up with is probably going to be inconsistent with the way most consumers perceive the brand. The real starting point is to go out to consumers and find out what they like or dislike about the brand and what they associate as the very core of the brand concept.
Of course, the other side of the coin is true as well: a great brand that knows itself also uses that knowledge to decide what not to do. At Starbucks, for instance, we were approached by a very large company that wanted to partner with us to create a coffee liquor. I’m sure Starbucks could go in and wreak havoc in that category. But we didn’t feel it was right for the brand now. We didn’t do a lot of research. We just reached inside and asked ourselves, “Does this feel right?” It didn’t. It wasn’t true to who we are right now.”
Stand for something, be grateful for an enemy, and be brand authentic.