Are you looking to become a popular brand in the community in which you operate or is leadership something you value more? Take a moment to think about the difference between these two words.
We live in a world where popularity is increasingly driving behaviour. For example, how many times have you checked to see how many people have liked your latest post?
This kind of environment makes it harder for ‘leaders’ to survive, because by nature they don’t make the popular choices. If we look at our recent Prime Ministers’ and consider each as a brand. We have a catalogue of people, on both sides of the political fence, who have fallen at the hands of those chasing popularity. Leadership doesn’t mean ignoring popular demands, but it does mean putting what is right ahead of doing something for a short-term gain.
Now think about it in terms of what is right for your business or not-for-profit brand.
What’s the difference between popularity and leadership? When it comes to branding, you can rarely be both.
There are exceptions of course, but have a think about this: If you are looking to be the most popular brand, then you are doing what the audience want. You are listening to their needs primarily first.
If you are looking to be a leader, you’re looking to be innovative and you’re looking to drag people along with you. And often, that means doing things that make people feel a little bit uncomfortable because you know that is right for your business and for your brand.
And far too often, we see people throw both popularity and leadership in as words as their definition or on the front of their website, and they don’t really think about it or have any meaning behind it. So if you’re using that kind of language, have a think about what it really means and have a think about: do you want to be popular or do you want to be a leader? And is it possible in your business or not-for-profit to be both.
Marketing is about engaging people and so often words like ‘leading’ and ‘popular’ are used as part of messages. Just using the words does not make it true. The risk is putting it out there and hoping the public backs you up, but hope needs to be embedded in something to stake your claim on.
If you are not trying to be one or the other, then chances are you are not doing a very good job servicing anyone. You are either trying to give your customers/clients the best product/service relative to your brand positioning or you are delivering something new/different/innovative.
Whether you are a business or not-for-profit, no matter the kind of product or service your offer, you are trying to be one or the other. Popular may be relative to a geographic location or a particular group of people, but nonetheless your main goal is grow your market. Leaders on the hand focus more on innovation, knowing some level of popularity may indeed follow.
On a personal level, you have to be comfortable in your own skin to not be led by popularity. Some are driven more by the idea of being first to something and letting everyone follow. When you picked up your most recent mobile phone, were you among the first inline for the latest release, or did you wait for a while and chose the most popular matching your needs.
By nature most people gravitate toward the most popular. It is why there is a level of comfort felt in seeing testimonials even from people they don’t know – it is a blind trust in being led to the safe zone. The risk for any brand is, will you like what people are saying about you? What potential damage will be done to your brand if you are not who you say you are?
Think about your business or not-for-profit and write down the virtues for you of being popular versus being a leader. Both are valid, but which is the right path for you?