Parrots Are Pets, Not Branding Strategies
Take a look at these branding clichés:
“Trusted source for quality entertainment.”
”We’re professional thought-leaders, heart-centered entrepreneurs who are one step ahead of competitors with ground-breaking products that converge customer-focused experiences.”
What? Did any of that actually tell you anything?
Each of those options are written with commonly-used lingo that has been repeated to the point of virtual meaninglessness. The words have lost their punch. When copy loses its ability to convey distinctiveness, it becomes ineffective at communicating a brand’s story or personality.
Yes, your product or service might truly be “customer-focused” but when you say the same things that your competitors say, then you aren’t showing your difference. Remember: consumers pick a brand because it makes purchasing an easy decision. When you don’t tell a unique story, then you don’t make decisions easier for your audience. If every entertainment company said “we offer experience-oriented services,” then how does any one of them stand out from the others? How would a customer pick any of those, when faced with the easy choice of skipping all of them until something snags their interest? Your difference – the thing that makes you unique over your competitors – is what your copy, your brand, your story should reveal. Don’t repeat catch-phrases that others have used to describe their product.
Branding clichés aren’t limited to text on a page either, as this parody ad reveals. We get it: sometimes your budget requires you to use stock photos and video. That in itself doesn’t create the problem. When faced with using stock elements, it’s still possible to distinguish your brand. Understand your individual identity and let that distinction guide you. Don’t replicate something you saw on YouTube. Besides, there’s always the chance that the funny video you saw last week copied something else.
It’s tempting to model a successful campaign. Learn from those opportunities, but don’t parrot them. Otherwise, your product/service disappear into a global mass of goods. Imitation simply points consumers back to the original brand that isn’t yours. A great example of this dilemma is seen in the Got Milk? campaign and subsequent knockoffs. Those knock offs simply reminded everyone of the original. Brilliant, when you are the first.
Perhaps a source of this problem is in the zeal to be clever, rather than clear. The drive to generate something original and fresh may overlook the consumer’s need for clarity. As a result, phrases that sound clever end up as branding clichés.
How do we avoid this?
Be clear about your difference, your advantage, your offering that no one else has and that no one else can match. Let your brand – and especially your copy – speak to that difference. If you want customers to believe that you really are “a cut above the rest,” then show them.
Start with killing the cliché.
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