Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Worst: A defensible branding position?

In Innovation, Insight on May 21, 2009 at 9:11 pm

I’ve said it before, you don’t always have to be the best, but you have to be memorable.  Take a look at this post from Rohit Bhargarva on a hotel in Amsterdam that markets itself as the worst hotel in the world. Or how about this God-awful t-shirt that Rob Walker highlights.

Rob writes of the Tee:

At first, it was simply a bad T-shirt. Then it became that bad T-shirt, the one that attracted a reviewer-flash-mob.

I’d take it a step further, not just that bad T-shirt, but THE bad T-shirt, the one by which all other bad T-shirts will be judged. Not that’s a defensible position!

Now, this approach isn’t for everyone. I don’t think the marketing folks at Tiffany’s or BMW are going to go this route anytime soon. But being the best is tough. For one thing, there is only one winner, one best in class. Also, everyone is gunning for you and everyone is rooting for you to slip up. Nobody likes rooting for Goliath (or Microsoft).

But Mr. Irrelevant, the last guy picked in the NFL draft? Who doesn’t want to see him succeed? But don’t misunderstand what intentionally being the worst means. It doesn’t mean simply being crappy, that’s apathy. It takes effort to be brilliantly awful, and imagination and dedication. There are hundreds of one star hotels throughout Europe, but only one that gets written about by marketers.

But I’m not really advocate that your brand/products should be junk. What I am saying, and these examples bear it out, you must be distinctive, a purple cow in Seth Godin’s words. Not everyone will like you, but that’s ok. Be distinctive and appeal to a certain segment. Treat that group special and nurture the relationship. Let them do the work for you after that.


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