Why letting your brand be a little weird could be the best thing for it.
As a member of the marketing community, I’ve developed a cynicism beyond my years from seeing too many powerful ideas done in by well intentioned marketing. By design, marketing is meant to give logical and reasoned foundation for directing behavior.
No one will deny this is essential for effective communication. The only problem is, too often marketing puts the rational, objective cart before the wild, unbridled horse of human emotion.
While browsing my LinkedIn newsfeed this Monday morning, I was met with a comforting article from Michael Lazerow, “Why Weirdos Outperform Normals”. As an admitted outlier on the normative spectrum, I found welcome solace in the headline alone.
The article profiles several leading luminaries from the eccentric side of corporate success. Folks like Gary Vaynerchuk, James Altucher, and Peter Thiel all who have managed to build thriving brands around themselves and their ideas without ever once pandering to the lowest common denominator.
Humans feel before we think. It’s how we’re wired. We experience intense inexplicable emotions, then look to justify them with reasonable argument. Too often marketing analyzes our behavior into oblivion until all the nascent energy, and weirdness that once made them compelling has been broken, tamed and saddled.
In a fantastic article from Fast Company, Douglas Van Praet examines this little paradox. When we invest time, money, and reputation on marketing tactics we need metrics to justify decisions, but they can only ever tell half the story.
As marketers we need to be bold enough to champion wild ideas and let them thrive. As neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor puts it in the article, “We live in a world where we are taught from the start that we are thinking creatures that feel. The truth is, we are feeling creatures that think.”
For the last 30 years marketing research had its priorities completely flipped.
“We don’t even think our way to logical solutions. We feel our way to reason. Emotions are the substrate, the base layer of neural circuitry underpinning even rational deliberation. Emotions don’t hinder decisions. They constitute the foundation on which they’re made”
If we are not already stirred by the idea of something, giving a clearly reasoned explanation is unlikely to spur any fresh motivation. Our goal is to forever dig until we find the core emotional content that keeps the heart of weirdness beating behind our thoughts and concepts.
As Kant said in The Critique of Pure Reason “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.