Last night, while going through some old bookmarks, I came across a David Brooks piece written just over a year ago titled, "The Power of the Particular." I highly recommend you read it—probably before you continue reading here.
What I want to focus on is the end of his piece, which contains valuable advice for brands. He says:
The whole experience makes me want to pull aside politicians and business leaders and maybe everyone else and offer some pious advice: Don’t try to be everyman. Don’t pretend you’re a member of every community you visit. Don’t try to be citizens of some artificial globalized community. Go deeper into your own tradition. Call more upon the geography of your own past. Be distinct and credible. People will come.
For me, this paragraph hits very close to home. Too many brands try to attract people by doing what they think will be most appealing to a large audience rather than remaining true and authentic to the brand's roots.
They try on different voices and messages and images in hopes that everyone will like them. They tell whatever story they think is going to get the most attention and make them the most attractive, over being true to their own story. Just as this doesn't work in dating and making good friends, it doesn't work in building a lasting, meaningful brand.
Instead, as I talked about yesterday, the brand should lean in to who it really is and use that to tell their story today. As Mr. Brooks says, the brand should go deeper into its own tradition. Call more upon the geography of its past. Be distinct and credible. People will come.