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  • Donna Lim

Getting Different: How to get weird without ruining your branding

Note From Larissa… In my last article we discussed how strange and unconventional marketing strategies are effective as long as professional quality is maintained. How do we expand on that, though? How do we go from Marketing Differently to marketing like, say, Oreo? For Oreo, every supermarket in the States is an advertisement. More importantly, whenever we see Oreo we think: Got Milk? No matter how odd their marketing gets, we never forget their slogan. How do we do that?

While reading Get Different I didn’t understand how the advice of “Good is bad, different is good” applied to larger corporations. Large corporations tend to cling onto whatever is “in”, and often in bandwagons. While it may seem quirky and weird, it is never different. Obviously, there is one distinct difference between large and small sized businesses: Money. As small business owners, we often struggle to create an appropriate marketing budget; which isn’t the case for Pepsi’s marketing department. However, even with that difference the fundamental idea of getting different must apply. So, I did some digging and what I found is that these large corporations are marketing differently, but it’s hard to notice because their brand images are so consistent. Thinking about Pepsi, that corporation has presented the message that Pepsi drinkers are more intelligent than Coke drinkers. Using the idea of intelligence as the core of their brand image, Pepsi has capitalized on social issues for their commercials and product placements. Another example, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has a brand message of “well made movies with quirky dialogue that captures your childhood.” Their different marketing (for the movie Ant Man) was a 30 second video of Mike Douglas and Paul Rudd rhythmically smacking their hands on their legs repeatedly yelling “Ants!” Both of these strategies have received criticism, and are fairly different from standard marketing for cola and movies. However, it took a while for me to recognize how different it was because it didn’t seem out of place for that company. Obviously, both brands are excessively successful, and we should learn how to emulate and change that idea to work with smaller marketing.

Let's do a case study on Sooter Consulting! Donna has employed several different marketing strategies from virtual happy hours to sending books to potential clients. But in this getting different case study we want to take a step back and think what is Sooter Consulting’s brand? Sooter Consulting actually makes it easy for us because it has a slogan: Bringing clarity to your finances. Actually, Donna has done several changes to tie Sooter Consulting to the word clarity. From “clarification calls” to using earth tones on her website. Sooter Consulting’s brand image must therefore be “we help you understand and feel safe.” How about we play a game and think of ways to market differently using the idea of “clarity”. We could:

  • Commission videos of zen garden artists meticulously designing Sooter Consulting’s logo in the sand.

  • Post a series of seemingly nonsensical posts on our social media and provide a cipher key in the comments.

  • Create a video commercial in an underused language and only allow captions on Sooter Consulting’s website or social media.

  • Create financials for a failing business and then display correct financials using Profit First the same time next week.

All of those ideas describe the clarity clients feel when employing Sooter Consulting. You may see some of these ideas implemented into Sooter Consulting’s marketing direction soon as well. But the point I want to drive home is that it wasn’t difficult to brainstorm those ideas when we have an idea of what we want our business to represent. What ideas and ideals do you want your business to represent? Once we have that concept down, and the idea that we need to be different if we want to get noticed, then we can find success in our marketing.

No one is going to expect an accounting company to market themselves like a spa with the use of zen gardens. But the imagery that implies “Sooter Consulting turns accounting into a spa” is obviously attractive. It would be an accounting faux pas to post a client’s financials on social media, even if they were fake, but it would attract attention. Our goal is to have our potential clients associate our brand with attractive things, which is why brand consistency is incredibly important. When our potential clients have a specific problem and need to think happy thoughts, they will connect it to our businesses. When our current clients are listening to the problems of their social networking friends, they will think of us. That brand image becomes marketing in and of itself. So, I challenge you. What is your brand identity? Don’t be afraid to be incredibly specific, come up with unique ideas and make different marketing with that identity in mind.


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