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Bravery is big these days. A lot of agencies and marketers have tied their brand promises to the word, including David and Goliath and Mondelez – a couple of forerunners. And why not? Who doesn’t want to be brave? It’s as American as apple pie. I, too, rely on the word in my practice. A boast I proudly share with clients (after signing them) is that there will likely be one word in the brand strategy they may find objectionable. They’ll love the sentiment. Feel the strategy. Know in their bones I get them. They’ll proudly nod at the defensible claim. Yet often, they will sheepishly ask “Do we have to use that one word?”

A $5B health care system asked “Do we have to use the word systematized?”

The world’s largest tech portal asked “Do we have to call consumers browsers?”

The country’s 10th largest daily newspaper asked “Do we have to say ‘We know where you live?’”

The list goes on.

The point is, brand strategy needs to be brave.  If it’s not, is it really strategic? If your brand strategy is not bold, it will be a long, expensive build toward effectiveness. And may weaken your brand planks. (Three planks support your claim.) This brave approach takes brand strategy out of insight land and into claim land. Out of observation mode, into prideful attack mode.

Oh, and the answer to my clients one-word objection? “No, you don’t have to use the word. The creative people will create the words. But you must use the strategy.” And everybody, myself included, bobble-heads in relief. Peace.

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I don’t know Mike Braue of David&Goliath and I haven’t seen Dave Angelo since softball in the 90s (Nice mouth, nice hands.) but I have been a fan of their work for years. Mr. Braue wrote a post for Talent Zoo this week in which he shared David&Goliath’s corporate philosophy of bravery.  I’m on board with bravery, not of the stupid, blind type that seeks to “break through the clutter” (Oh, how I loathe those words), but the bravery that makes one feel a bit uncomfortable and suggests acting with an unpredictable outcome.

Crispin Porter (May I call them Crispin Potter? They are sort of Harry Potteresque.) has a theorem about creative that suggests good work must create conflict for the consumer; conflict being a keystone of good storytelling. Oddly, when I present a brand strategy there is typically one word that makes the CEO uncomfortable. Often it’s a critical word…a strategically pivotal word. When I hear that nervousness, I know I’ve got them. You see CEOs want to be brave, love to be brave – that’s how they got to be CEOs.

Seeing the future and predicting the future is not for the weak kneed. Seeing and acting on the past on the other hand is the practice of 92% of marketers. The brave have been hit in the schnoz, they’ve been struck by an arrow…and lived. Stick your nose out, take an arrow. Be brave. Peace!

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