I SO agree (and sorry it took me so long to come over and comment!). Just a terrific post, Shakirah - #thatisall
Geoff Livingston wrote this post for me, but I’ve been holding onto this title so long I’m not willing to let it go.
But I feel I’d better rehash a little of Geoff’s post, probably because he provided the au courant substance (excuse?) I’d been searching for to feel confident my thoughts to follow aren’t completely off-track.
He provides a graph of the diffusion of innovation, showing exactly the numbers necessary for a brand to go from special-interest to mass-market gotta-have trend.
I want to focus on the tension he describes that we feel in the very beginning of that cycle, between being accepted and being a “purple cow.”
First, let’s think about what it means to be a purple cow. Literally. Imagine that you’re in a field with brown cows, and you’ve painted yourselve a gorgeous violet.
They eventually make friends in the movies, weird characters like this, but in real life you can bet you’ll be alone in whatever end of the pasture you graze. Others aren’t sure how to deal with you–or whether they should. But you’re a cow–okay, a business–just like every other. How are you going to succeed?
Well, Geoff says,
“A classic mistake would be for a content creator or innovator to scorn the mass and groupthink, in spite of their flaws.”
Lifehacker.com appeals to fiercely independent people who are also on-trend and readily able to embrace the term hack as the shortest path from A to B. I happen to have a client whose personal brand is associated with hacking as well.
But because its delivery isn’t anchored in the safer life, he opted to create a new brand altogether to reach his market of people less familiar with the term hack in a positive light, but who nevertheless appreciate easy-to-use technology.
If being different were the goal of your brand, very few brands would make money. The goal of your brand is buy-in.
So start counting: how many people like purple? Enough on which to stake a sustainable business model? If there’s no obvious match-up, look for the “thread of discontent” that can draw out the kind of people you expect to serve.
Worldly success comes from other people. In other words, it can come on your terms–but usually, they’re terms others must be willing to accept.
Shakirah Dawud is the writer and editor behind Deliberate Ink. Based in Maryland with roots in New York, she’s been crafting effective marketing copy as a writer and polishing many forms of prose as an editor since 2002. Clients in many fun sizes, industries, and locations reach her through the Web. You can also connect with her on Twitter.
Humans are a funny group. We are so diverse. so many would sell out in a second for mass acceptrance even if it means a short lifespan of fame and fortune. Or they seek it. Then how many have to stay hip, elitist, cool etc. They would rather we poor than famous. Even if they had the choice.
A great case study on this is music. When a band signs a contract (or used to) they lost all creative freedom often in return for being pushed to the top. I can name band after band that had a hit song and then died because they had to recreate an album like that one song only to find people are past that and this the band dies out. But some took albums and albums and did it on their own therms and became huge keeping things on their terms.
I guess do you want to be a rocket or a balloon floating to the top?
I have had similar discussions with friends and family. For example, my son and a friend want to open a donut store that doesn't sell chocolate donuts.
They both hate chocolate so to them it makes sense to open a shop that caters to their needs and what they assume is millions of others.
That may or may not be true. So we have talked about whether it makes sense to be different just because they don't like something or because you are filling a need.
@ShakirahDawud Good to see you back here. I was just thinking last night that you'd been quiet for a while.
@KOKEdit Hi, Kathy! (waves) Blushing: a role model of mine thinking of me! Been thinking of you too, working thru edits. Happy to see fall?
@ShakirahDawud Oh, I'm thrilled that it's fall! There's that lovely back-to-school, start-anew feeling in the air. :-)
@KOKEdit Yes--and for some reason this year it's triggered the urge to buy s of sweater dresses like crazy for me and the little one. Weird.