Yesterday I had a wonderful question from a participant in Unforgettable U, my online branding program. In effect, she asked, “Juju, what if I tailor my branding and my message to a specific audience, and in doing so, I push away everyone else?”
In essence, she asked, what if I limit my possibilities with my brand?
I love this question, because it gets straight to the heart of truly powerful branding.
Developing an effective brand is an act of bravery.
It involves looking deeply inside yourself – and your business – to identify what you believe, what you stand for, and what you can bring to the world.
It also involves looking deeply into the specific hopes, dreams, fears and frustrations of potential clients or customers.
And most importantly, it involves making a promise that what you deliver will be designed to address those very hopes, dreams, fears and frustrations.
When you do that, you’ll be a serious turn-on for a very specific group. Others will feel lukewarm about your promise or offers. While still others will be turned off, or entirely repelled.
But there’s an important lesson in this:
You will go further, faster, with a smaller group of raving, loyal fans who are committed to you and your message, than with an enormous group who could take it or leave it.
Great branding is kind of like ice cream…
Nearly everyone likes vanilla and chocolate ice cream. If you bring either of these to a birthday party, just about everyone will eat the cake – with the ice cream – and be fine. They may even be satisfied. But they’re not going to talk about the ice cream. They’re not going to say, “Oh, my God!! Who brought the vanilla?!! I love vanilla! I haven’t had vanilla in ages!”
You feel me here, right? No one ever created a “moment” with vanilla ice cream.
On the other hand, if you bring Chunky Monkey (Ben and Jerry’s banana ice cream with fudge chunks and walnuts), there will be folks in the crowd who RAVE over the ice cream. They will come back for second helpings. They will BOND with you over your ice cream choice. They will tell you stories about the first time they ever had Chunky Monkey and how they sneak away to eat it. They will make the most guttural sounds of delight and satisfaction as they lick their spoons and wink at you.
Other people will look at you as though you are insane. They will say things like, “Banana ice cream with cake? Seriously??!! Whose idea was that? Why not just a simple vanilla or chocolate?”
Now, here’s what you need to understand:
You ARE Chunky Monkey. You were BORN Chunky Monkey. We’re ALL Chunky Monkey. Each of us, and each of our businesses, is chock full of DIFFERENCES. Quirks. Specialties. Back stories. Personality characteristics. Beliefs and values. Crazy combinations of FLAVORS!
And If you search deeply enough, and show yourself completely enough, you will likely become polarizing. Some are gonna love ya. Others are gonna leave ya.
You can pretend that you are not Chunky Monkey. You can pretend to be vanilla. Or chocolate. You can water down all the interesting flavors in the hope (which will undoubtedly go unfulfilled) that you will please everyone and offend no one.
But you know what? No one will talk about you after the party.
And the next time you meet the guests who thoughtlessly gobbled your vanilla… they won’t even remember you.
So I invite you – I IMPLORE you – to get your Chunky Monkey on. To work toward ATTRACTING those who love your particular flavor. And to cater JUST to them. You’ll be narrowing your crowd for sure… but they’ll be telling everyone about your exquisite taste long after you’ve left the room.