Can Brandstanding Be Your Key to Brand Elevation?
Every brand I talk to is looking for ways to stand out. To connect with their audiences. To cut through the clutter and stand out. The problem is, very few brands are willing to take risks. They’re afraid of alienating potential customers. As a result, they play it safe. So safe that they end up with a bland instead of a brand.
If this sounds like your brand, it might be time to get familiar with brand elevation. What’s brand elevation? It’s when you take your brand to the next level through thought leadership marketing. Simply put, it means making sure your marketing stands out from the crowd – today and tomorrow.
Dare to Be Different
It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This is especially true in marketing. After all, if you want to get different results, you really need to try something different. And if your brand isn’t as well known (or well loved), brandstanding can pave the way to brand elevation.
What Is Brandstanding?
It’s a clever twist on the derogatory word grandstanding. With a much better meaning. It is defined by urban dictionary as follows:
“Unlike grandstanding, brandstanding is when you take a stand for your brand in a way that is YOU, with your style, accomplished in a way that is both articulate and promotional without being over-the-top.”
And What Does Brandstanding Look Like?
Brand elevation occurs when a brand is not afraid to be bold and take a stand. Like when the FIFA Women’s World Cup was won by the US women’s national soccer team. The 2019 USWNST was an incredible team of athletes who also happened to be surrounded by some incredible, socio-political controversy. One very vocal team member in particular – Megan Rapinoe – was at the heart of much of the highly publicized controversy.
Whether or not you agreed with Rapinoe’s polarizing sentiments about the White House, there was no arguing that the awareness of her personal brand was being elevated. She and the team, who received a fraction of the compensation of male athletes, became the faces of the equal pay movement. Again, whether or not you agree that gender should have nothing to do with compensation (it shouldn’t, by the way), you can’t deny that this team grabbed an enormous share of media coverage.
More than Press Coverage
But brand elevation takes more than media coverage; all communications and activities stemming from that brand must be authentic to what that brands stands for. Rapinoe and her team mates made a women’s soccer team stand for an enormous issue that is relevant and meaningful to many people. While that turned some people off, many others – including non-soccer fans – became very interested and supportive in the team and their stance.
This got the attention of brands as well. Brands who are dialed in on socio-political issues and who engage in polarizing communications in support of those issues despite the risks. And partially because of the risks. Yes, they are risking upsetting some of their fans – although if their brand stance has been carefully cultivated and they have stayed true to their roots for a while, those fans will be long gone.
The Bigger Picture
The bigger picture is the opportunity to be one with your audience on an issue that isn’t just about your brand. That puts you both on the same side – and THAT is a very, very special place to be.
The Google Doodle that graced the home page of the world’s largest search engine immediately after this landmark sports victory did more than celebrate the US Women’s Team winning the World Cup. This illustration of Lady Liberty waving the flag visibly told people where Google stood on the socio-political issues for which the team had become a face. In other words, with this doodle, Google was brandstanding.
Did people see that doodle when they logged in to search for something, get disgusted that Google supports a viewpoint contrary to their own, and become a Firefox-forever convert or a newfound Safari surfer? I’m sure they did. The doodle also grabbed quite a few positive headlines, many social shares, and other positive sentiment for the search engine. And it did even more: it made Internet users (ie, everyone) recognize that even the search engine they use can reflect their personal beliefs.
When it Comes to Brandstanding, Go for the Gold. And the Google.
Not every brand is born a thought leader. But every brand can become one. They just have to be willing to take the kind of stand that can elevate their brand. Again, brand elevation is not for the weak of heart. It is for those who are willing to commit to being more than a commodity, to meaning more to their consumers, and to being on the same side of the issue conversation – even if it means losing loyalty from those who disagree.
For some brands, brandstanding means addressing social issues. For other brands, it’s taking a more in-your-face approach to marketing. Every brand is different. The key is to find what works for your brand. Once you establish this, work it relentlessly, understanding that it takes time to gain credibility and see the results. Be authentic. Don’t just hop on the bandwagon. Think long and hard about who your audience is, and what’s relevant to them, and what authentic authority you can bring to the picture. Then make sure your marketing reflects that approach.
Want more information on brandstanding and brand elevation? We’re always ready to talk.
About The S3 Agency: The S3 Agency is a NJ ad agency known as “The New York Agency in New Jersey.” We work exclusively with brands we can believe in – and help elevate those brands so that more people can do the same.