Not So Superman

What does a superhuman alien impervious to external forces lack?

December 9, 2019

When the Superman comics were first introduced in 1938, the hero was a success. Mainly because no such concept had been created or seen before. Superman represented humans in an ideal form, without fault and with extraordinary abilities. However, after a couple issues, you get kinda bored seeing him win all the time, it's as if there isn't anything worth challenging him on.

10 years later, the writers of Superman introduced kryptonite, the only material substance known to weaken Superman. This single foil within the character kept the series alive and gave him something to wrestle with. It made him more human and therefore more relatable.

The point is this, as a startup, you will have an urge to puff up your chest and broadcast yourself as impervious. Apart this being false, it makes it impossible for other humans to connect with you. Do a good job, strive for greatness, but never shy away from your imperfections. Your kryptonite is what makes people love you.

More you say?

Say It Again to My Face

You don't have to change your pitch every time.

2.4.2020

I'm a huge Jordan Peterson fan. I've read his books, I listen to his podcast, I watch his YouTube videos, and I seek him out on other people's podcasts as well.

I've even caught myself repeating some of his phrases to others. Things like "set your house in order before you judge the world," "hierarchies are built on conscientiousness and competence," "tell the truth or, at least, don't lie," and "walk the line between chaos and order, that's where you find fulfillment."

You might think it's impressive on my part (and if you do, stop it, you're making me blush), but it's impossible to forget those ideas if you listen to the guy more than once. Truth be told, he doesn't deviate a whole lot from a few central tenants, which makes them easy to recognize and remember. It's these central ideas that become the pillars for all his other ideas to stand upon. Even when he does deviate, you can link it back to his core beliefs.

What does this have to do with branding?

Beat the hell out of one idea and let your brand become known for it, that's how you gain brand authority.

If you aren't getting tired of touting your idea about how the world should be different, then you aren't sending your message enough.

An anecdotal example: I've tried to become synonymous with the word "rebel," I've been using it for over a year. It wasn't until a couple months ago that I started having others say the word to me. Point being, it took more than a year of getting that idea out there to have others recognize it and associate me with it.

Say your idea. After that, say it again. Finally, say it again to my face. Eventually, I'll remember it.

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Doing It Right vs Doing It Now

And understanding when both are appropriate.

2.5.2020

There are two camps for prioritizing brand elements and how much investment should be given to them:

Doing it Right and Doing it Now.

"Doing it Right" elements can be distinguished by one key characteristic: longevity.

Meaning, they should not change drastically over time because it would diminish their value. Items that come to mind are pieces of the core identity like a name and logo. Without the necessary attention given to them, they easily become lost among competitors or run into issues later. For example, a neglected logo will have difficult placement on varying applications, improper formatting, or general discontent from the owners of a company. Neglected names follow a similar trajectory, as they lose their appeal fast and are difficult to expand. "Do it Right" elements left unattended fall victim to sunk-loss fallacy, working their way deeper and deeper under the skin. Until you finally pull them out and they take pieces with them. Ouch.

"Do it Now" elements can be distinguished by one key characteristic: change.

Meaning, it is expected that at some point these will change because it will increase their value. In the digital age, we have a lot of flexibility to adjust things like a website, social campaigns, email templates, printed marketing collateral, etc. In fact, as technology progresses, it's not even certain whether those mediums will still be relevant. However, it is certain that those elements will change to be better optimized and catered to reflect the brand, or that they will eventually run out of stock and need to be revisited anyway. "Do it Now" elements can start rocky and gradually get better. For example, a website might start out as a single page and move toward a robust, e-commerce site with membership logins, custom CMS platforms, gated content, etc. Change made for the better that adds value rather than detracting from it.

Debating whether or not a brand element needs to be done right or done now?

Ask yourself, "how long do I expect this to stay the same?"

If the answer is, "a long time, hopefully forever," give it the attention it deserves.

If the answer is, "it will have to change eventually," get rolling fast and iterate.

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