To build your brand, do you dare to care?

One thing I have noticed about strong brands: there are always a group of people who “hate” the brand.

Think of Microsoft and Facebook. Millions of people use their products and services – and complain about them everyday.

Hate might sound a bit strong. But just listen to the passionate complaints. There’s some strong language being used there. And yet, do these customers leave?

Like a balancing equation, if one group of people love a particular brand, there must be a different group who hate it. In other words, unless you have some group of people who hate you, you don’t have a real brand.

Therein lies the problem.

As human beings, we don’t (generally) like it when someone hates us. We’ll do anything to please people – especially paying customers. And in the end we risk trying to please everyone – and thereby pleasing no one.

But successful marketers think differently. They get very comfortable with the idea that some people don’t like their brand. In fact, they celebrate it.

Equally important, successful marketers apply all of their focus and energies on a select group of customers – on caring for those that DO love their brand.

The Values of Daring and Care

To build a strong brand, one requires courage to stand out – to be daring.

As a differentiating value, Daring means bold; radically new or original; disposed to venture or take risks. Note there is no reference here to being reckless or foolhardy. In the hands of a strong leader, daring is a strategic value.

On the other hand, there must be an emotional connection to value a brand. It requires honest care.

Care means feel concern or interest; providing attention or treatment.

For marketers, daring to care might be considered… radical.

Radical Marketing

In the year 2000, I had the privilege of engaging Sam Hill, a consultant, speaker, and author, for a client assignment. Former chief marketing officer of consulting firm Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Hill had just published a book called Radical Marketing.

In the book, Hill profiled 10 companies that he considered to be some of the world’s best marketers – using non-traditional means. His eclectic list included Harley Davidson, the NBA, Virgin Atlantic, EMC Corp, and the Grateful Dead.

Interestingly, each organization applied different means to grow their business and their brand. But Hill highlights three things as the common ingredients of these 10 radical marketers:

  1. They relate differently to their customers. There is a warmth and respect that builds a connection with their customers. There is no patronizing cynicism often found in traditional marketers.
  2. They are in it for the long haul. There is a caring tone in customer communications. And because they expect to face the same customer the next day, there’s a fierce commitment to quality.
  3. They are resource constrained, often severely. There’s a willingness to make the best with what’s at hand. And this resulted in breakthrough innovation, on behalf of their customers.

In other words, world-class marketers dared to care about a specific group of customers, focused on providing the best quality and experience, and doing so in spite of serious limitations in needed resources.

Daring to care. Sounds like a radical approach to brand building….


Are you daring enough to show your customers how much you care?


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I write about differentiating values and their impact on leadership, marketing, and marriage - focused on couples in business together. Read more about Robert.