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Brand: Why trying to please everyone is an easy way of pleasing no one

 

A month or two ago, I finished my second round with Game of Thrones, brought on by a recent trip to the Studio tour in Banbridge (10/10, would recommend to a friend). There is one line from the finale that has really stuck with me – so much so that I couldn’t even pinpoint where I had heard it, but it has been rattling around up there for weeks.

‘No one is very happy. Which means it’s a good compromise’. – the one and only, Tyrion Lannister.

I agree wholeheartedly with the statement, particularly for significant decisions (policy, redundancies, or in this case, who rules the Iron Throne). But let’s not ignore the first part of the quote – no one is very happy.

I’m a marketing bod, so hopefully, that provides some context to where I am going with this – but when it comes to your brand, both from the perspective of customers and talent, too much compromise can make for an all-around bland experience. You have spent so long trying to please everyone, that in the end, it hits the mark for no one. It might be an OK exchange, but there will be someone else, somewhere else, that has got it spot on for them. And ultimately, that’s where they will go.

People are diverse with their own blend of preferences. They want authenticity and a brand that personally resonates with them. We live in a world where we are being sold to all day long. Adverts pointed at us in every direction – TV, radio, social media, email, text message, in person. You can barely step outside your door without being met with some form of marketing. The only way to actually stand out? Be different.

How to do it

Firstly, you need to understand who you are as a business. What makes you unique? What do your customers and employees love most about you? Where are your strengths, and more importantly, what are your weaknesses?

From here, you should start to build an idea of what it is you bring to the table, and what you can do that your competitors can’t. That will define your offering.

Then you need to look at who actually wants this. Who are you attracting? This goes deeper than ‘business owners’ or ‘top talent’ – because that’s exactly how we have all fallen into this trap in the first place. What type of people are they? What do they love? What do they hate? What matters most to them when it comes to buying from or joining your business? Even better, who aren’t your people? Who doesn’t need this, or want it? And who don’t you want to work with?

I’ll use a car as an example (this will be rudimentary because I know nothing about cars – please bear with me). A 7-seater isn’t sporty – it’s not the fastest, or the coolest, or a status symbol to be admired by onlookers. But does it pretend to be? No. Do they try and find a middle ground and say, ‘We’re kind of fast and kind of sporty – look, we added a spoiler’? No. It just is what it is. And instead of trying to be all things to all men, they lean into it. No, we aren’t the fastest, but we are the biggest. No, we aren’t the coolest, but we do have space and flexibility to fit your lifestyle. No, we aren’t going to be gawked at on the street, but we’re ready to take on any terrain.

For many, that is what is important. That’s their who, and they speak right to them.

Find the people that matter and start creating messaging that is meaningful to them and avoid trying to please those who don’t – they aren’t your audience, stay in your lane.

If you’re interested in seeing this in action, and keeping to my 7-seater analogy, I think this one from Lexus demonstrates strong messaging well. Not only is this aimed directly at their target audience, but it also solves a notable problem with 7-seaters – no one wants to sit in the tiny back seats!

At the end of the day, we all know compromise has its place – but don’t make it the default for your brand. Embrace what makes you distinct, connecting with those who resonate with your message. Trying to please everyone will blend you into the background. Be bold, authentic, and unapologetically yourself. It may not please everyone, but it will resonate with those who matter most. In a world saturated with compromise, standing out is the only path to success.

Written by Natasha Agnew.


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