Buyers today are tired of the ordinary; they want an experience and to be entertained. Every year, Brand Fuel brings a mantra to life for our sales team. For example, we were all about the overused but still important, “Be Relevant” years back. And then there was “Prepare and Prevent so you don’t have to Repair and Repent.” Recently, we came up with one of our team’s all time favorites – “BE BRAVE.”
So, we initiated a Be Brave, in-your-face, departure from the norm campaign designed with these goals:
- Highlight the essence of Brand Fuel’s creative force
- Incite clients to give us an opportunity, as their partner, to show them how to stand out in a crowded market and get people really talking about their brand.
Ever since we hung off the balcony of our first office in 1998 and in an ad, asked client to “hang with us for all of their promotional product needs,” Brand Fuel has been know to be a bit off-kilter. To our clients, suppliers, and employees. It has been how we recruit and retain good people and this quirkiness has become a part of our culture. We want to push the envelope because we realized long ago that sometimes off-center is what people remember.
Why? Ernest Hemingway said, “Live the fullest life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.” And we tend to agree. Ole Ernest’s famous quote coupled with the certainty that familiar is forgettable, is why Being Brave is incredibly important.
It’s time we stop doing what the historical playbook tells us to. Times have changed. Do we really believe a $0.50 giveaway will generate solid business leads? That’s crazy! Because time and time again we know that adult trick-or-treaters just grab a handful of cheap giveaways, often to leave them behind in the hotel room. Buyers of promotional products might as well target hotel maids. We ask our clients to trust us and to try the unexpected. To generate buzz on a tradeshow floor from that imprinted toilet paper with a competitor’s logo we sneaked into conference hall bathrooms. Or like that static cling surreptitiously placed across a hotel room TVs to make it look as if someone vandalized and shattered the TV…with a little imprint in the corner of the TV that read, “Is your company’s InfoTech not working? Then come see Acme IT Company at Booth #1234.”
We are here to fuel brands. And we refuse to be that company that just slaps a logo on a cheap pen just because you think that’s what you want. We can and we need to do better. It is our responsibility to our clients, to ourselves and to our industry. It’s our responsibility to ask, “WHY?”
If you could be a fly on the wall in our Be Brave weekly brainstorming meetings, you would see that no idea is crazy.
And many of our clients are pledging to Be Brave alongside us. For example, when tasked with finding a solution to distribute donation cards for community causes at a corporate wellness event, we created branded parachutes, with gift cards attached. They were thrown off the company’s HQ into the crowd. Sometimes it takes a little creativity and courage to be memorable. (And sometimes, you need to increase your insurance policy.)
Our Be Brave campaigns are presented with the understanding that most marketing managers WANT to Be Brave, but think budget and/or lack of time and politics keep them from doing something truly memorable. Thinking about being brave with your marketing efforts is one thing; actually following through on your gut instincts and doing it, mustering the courage to do so, is another. So, take a chance, and dare to be different. Because the status quo has no shelf life.