03 Oct Stand for something or fall for anything
It’s easier to fall for anything than it is to stand for something. When you don’t have a North Star; a clear objective, a well articulated purpose or a deep sense of self, life seems easy.
You simply go in the direction of the prevailing wind. It means that what you did last year will be 99% right this year. If someone comes to you selling, you’ll probably fall for it and buy. But what’s really happening beneath the surface is rot (and rot eventually comes to the surface).
It has never, in the history of brands, been more important to have a clear articulation of what you stand for (and against). The speed at which media is transforming creates new and exciting opportunities, but just because something is new and exciting does not make it right.
Brands that stand for something are able to say “no thanks” with greater conviction. They can tack into a category headwind comfortably, because they know where they’re going. They will refuse to rinse-and-repeat last year’s activities.
One brand that stands for something is Converse. Take the Chuck Taylor – an iconic shoe. Now try and find an iconic ad for Chuck Taylors. Actually, don’t bother, I tried and there isn’t one. This is a brand that has eschewed advertising in favour of meaningful actions to serve their customers. When Converse launched the Chuck Taylor II, the first redesign of the shoe ever, they did so by creating a recording studio for young musicians just starting out. No big TV ad, no social blitz, no fashion magazines.
They did this because they have a clear purpose to celebrate their audience and try to be helpful. That’s not the official articulation by the way, but that’s the sentiment. They recognised that one of their key audiences is musicians, most notably the Ramones, pictured above. They’re an audience that deserves to be cherished because they give the brand back a great deal of equity. So, to help musicians, they decided to launch Rubber Tracks – a recording studio for young emerging artists to get experience and lay down some tracks.
Oh, so Converse gets to choose the music and then own the rights to the content? No, that would be disingenuous. The artists own the music and Converse leaves them to it. The brilliance of this is that the musicians can’t help but love the brand for what they’re doing
There is no catch.
Just the perfect manifestation of a generous purpose.