I hope someone hates your brand

Are you sitting on the fence with your brand

Really well-defined brands force you to get off the proverbial fence.  Either you love it or hate.  Sorry but you can’t be in between. Great marketers really get this. 

They know that they must occupy some important real estate in the mind of their customers. They need to annoy someone or some group of consumers. Without standing for something they get lost is a sea of white bread boredom.  Why? 

A clearly defined brand wants a tribe of people who are passionate about your product or service so they will tell your story and help spread the word. What is the last time you shared boring information with your online community? 

If you map out brand's intensity, you can see where things stand. I like to call this the WHITE BREAD SCALE. Are you in the white bread and boring quadrants? Do your customers  shrug their shoulders and just not really care? Or are you closer to the jalapeno and exciting part of the conversation where things get spicy? 

The White Bread Index- What side of this fence are you on? 

You may disagree with where I have placed these brands on this chart. The point is to illustrate brands that are well-defined with purpose and brands that are dull and lifeless. I don't love some of these brands like Fox News or Chick Fil A but I do like that they stand for something. The key marketing takeaway is that those brands on the left side are not on the fence. 

In my past life as VP Marketing on Slim Jim, I knew I was doing my job when we got letters about parent's hating our over the top advertising. (Snap into a Slim Jim and Eat me!) But our target, their kids were falling in love with our brand as we focused on infusing the product with a rebellious attitude. Parents hated it. Kids loved it. Success! 

In your face brands like the Australian site VinoMOFO also alienate some with their attitude in selling wine. Watch a video on their website about how they sell wine and push you off the fence into their 'Fo world. Some people hate their brand and their edgy name. However, they use that as evidence that their brand means something to their tribe of followers and that they aren't on the fence- dull and boring. 

Ron Johnson, the new CEO from JCPenny’s is fighting to move this retailer off the fence from boring to exciting. He wants to take the brand to a new land where his customers really care about their experience. 

To do this he is taking away things from the brand that hurt their image- sales every day, commodity products, etc. He is in the fight of his life as Wall Street wants him to succeed today but as we all know it takes time to fix a brand. He knows that he needs a smaller tribe of passionate customers not a massive audience of indifferent shoppers. 

I’m not a big clothes shopper and don’t go into JCPenny’s but I applaud the effort to stand for something that is not in the flabby middle. He comes from Apple and ran their retail store business which is as a good a credential as you can have to create fans who fall in love with the brand and brag about their experience at places like the genius bar. 
What is Johnson trying to do for this brand? He is trying to make the in-store experience unique and meaningful to a small group of purchasers who aren't trained by sales but are motivated by something more emotional and magnetic. 

But the really difficult task is in making JC Penny mean something new to those who regularly shop at the store. He has to alienate some folks or he won’t be defining something new and different. Someone better hate his brand since that implies that a new tribe will love it. 

Are you sitting on the fence? Maybe you need some customers to hate your brand too. 


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