Challenge convention

When you communicate your brand, do you challenge convention? Too often people choose the path that is most commonly traveled. It’s an understandable decision. It’s safer, more comfortable, sometimes most cost-effective and even faster. So why challenge convention? Why stop and ask if there is a different way to communicate? The answer is simple. It may be better.

To be clear, when you challenge convention, it is not to say that you are choosing to be different merely for the sake of being different. Nor is it saying that ultimately you will direct your brand in an unconventional manner.

The key is in the word “challenging.” We owe it to the brands we represent and their constituents to assess how we are communicating and determine whether there are different directions that might help get us to our brand goals more effectively. This assessment should be systemic to the brand. Understanding your brand promise and knowing your audience, you need to ask if the messages you disseminate are on target? Do they really resonate? Have they been mired down in mediocrity? How about the way you disseminate? Are the channels you are using integrated? Are they optimized? Do they make sense or are you following the way it’s always been done.

Here are some guidelines to consider:

Be fearless. Challenging convention is not for the timid. It takes guts and the ability to part from the past. Do not be afraid to be bold. The assessment period is about generating thought, not necessarily setting anything in stone.

Be inclusive. The process does not work in a vacuum. You’ve got to seek the input of your customers and your team. Sometimes the best ideas come from where you least expect them. Choose wisely, but reach beyond marketing and sales to gain pertinent perspectives.

Be open-minded. It’s easy to dismiss ideas. It’s much more difficult to build from them. Make sure not to rule out thoughts simply because there is no precedent or the scope seems unrealistic. Instead, determine whether it may be worth scaling the concept or reshaping it in a manner that may work more effectively.

Be honest. Ask the tough questions. No ducking or dodging. It goes back to the most fundamental essential of branding – establishing and maintaining credibility. The solutions you arrive at will only be effective if you have cultivated them in the context of the real world.

Be respectful. Don’t do anything to disrupt the brand and the equity you’ve established. Instead, pursue ideas that bolster the brand and take it even further. Remember, ultimately, you are creating a brand experience based on the promise you have made. It is critical to ensure the integrity of that experience.

The status quo may very well be the best path forward, but unless you challenge convention, you cannot pursue it with confidence, or with the knowledge that you are supporting your brand the best way possible.

by Jonathan D. Katz