Saul Kripke, a philosopher and logician, supposedly once negated a conference lecturer whose subject was how a double positive never made a negative. Kripke, shouted “yeah, yeah” from the back of the room, his voice dripping with sarcasm and left. That’s the way a lot of the people we marketers pitch feel about our clients’ brands and products. Because of the promises we help them make. It makes it hard to look in the mirror some mornings, doesn't it?
While we all espouse transparency and straight talk, somewhere in the backs of our heads too is the question “What’s the real story?” or sometimes “What’s the whole story?” All too often we don’t challenge our clients and ourselves to come clean, we rely on the fine print and disclaimers to do our legal CYA but is that really good for anyone? Does it make us feel good? Is it an ethical CYA?
I’ve certainly been on the receiving end of brand promise when it’s turned out not so swell. Sometime it matters a little (ok the battery buried in the specs for those wireless earbuds doesn’t actually get me through a movie on a plane).
But sometimes it does matter (I really, really can’t see through those glasses you sent me without having them perched on the end of my nose). It’s then that someone should have communicated that sometimes that happens and you can’t send them back without crawling the stations of the cross. Then I eat the cost and tell friends don’t use THAT company…ever. (BTW, it is NOT Warby Parker, with whom I’ve had the opposite experience).
My point is the down side (and every product or service has one), doesn’t need to be the hook or the headline, but wouldn’t it be great if we challenged ourselves to find it—and find a way to make it honestly a part of the promise? Our glasses are great and low cost but not if your prescription requires your frames fit exactly. Being upfront about your limitations only elevates what you’re great at delivering and strengthens your brand. Then a marketer can look at them selves in the mirror and feel good.
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