It's hard to understand how some fads become established. Across all levels of business, I've seen a formulaic headline being used in ads, on websites, and anywhere else copy is used.
It goes something along the lines of this:
"Our (insert service/product here), your (insert benefit here)."
Most recently, I saw it in a Hootsuite ad that stated "Our social media tool, your success," to provide a concrete example.
There is something about this that feels off. Partly because it feels like I'm being lead by a carrot on a stick. Use our tool and all of your dreams will come true, they say. The thing is that no one actually believes these kind of statements because they know the real meaning behind them is sales. No one likes to be sold to, it seems needy.
What makes this distaste for a "salesy" ad even greater is when it's used over and over again in the form of a cliché. Think about it, how many times have you seen an ad that touted a similar phrase?
"Our team, your peace of mind."
"Our social media tool, your success."
"Our burgers, your satisfaction."
The list goes on and on and on, and for what? In the hopes that someone is going to feel something from a plug-and-play slogan, they've heard four times in the same day?
This phrase is for companies that don't have anything better to say or the courage to be authentic. Don't let that be you.
Be sure to read pillar one before diving into this article:
Being honest opens the door to a hidden superpower: confidence. Because of their honest nature, rebels exude confidence. Why is that? When you consistently tell the truth, you get really good at it. Unlike their deceptive counterparts who constantly have to watch their words to make sure the lies add up, an honest person can speak the truth with the same effortlessness as drawing a breath.
Furthermore, because of their willingness to accept the truth that things are imperfect, rebels can be themselves without feeling the need to impress other people. It's confidence that allows a rebel to say, "I don't have a Ferrari, I don't have 50k followers on Instagram, and I'm not a millionaire, but it doesn't matter to me. I'm still going to get out there and make a difference."
As the old adage goes: confidence is not having everyone like you, it's the ability to be yourself whether people like you or not.
Rebels are honest.
Rebels are confident.
The beauty of being literate is that it opens up the door to improve... always. That being said, a lot of startup founders and creatives overlook the fact that marketing masters and branding savants have put their thoughts on paper for the whole world to access. When it comes to differentiation and being rebellious, these are my top three choices:
Zag by Marty Neumeier
Neumeier is the granddaddy of all branding brooks. His cornerstone guide, The Brand Gap, set the record straight on what branding actually is and why it matters in business. He followed up with Zag to hyper-focus on differentiation. The significance of Zag lies in the step-by-step structure that walks readers through how to be different. Granted, he does not dive extremely deep into every step (i.e. crafting a logo or a name), but you'd be foolish not to follow the principles listed in these pages.
Positioning by Ries and Trout
An oldie, but a goodie. Nearly every 21st century marketing book I've read has referenced Ries and Trout's strategies within Positioning. A word of caution, this book is super heady and can seem boring at times, but the examples provided from actual companies within this book are eternally applicable. Expect to learn a lot of great terminology and systemized thinking that will explain all of the marketing efforts you see everyday.
This is Marketing by Seth Godin
This was the first Seth Godin book I had ever read, needless to say it did not disappoint and I rated it as one of my top five books read in 2019. Marketing has almost become synonymous with spammed advertising, clickbait laden emails, and down right annoying. Seth's definitions of service-oriented marketing and the frameworks for niching down are the most clear and articulated I've ever seen. Furthermore, he uses real-world examples to demonstrate how it is the most generous brands that win, not the ones with the sexiest ads or the most keywords.