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Some of the biggest social revolutions in the last decade have spawned from technology that helps to bring people together… particularly as singles look for a partner. But what do you do when the vanity infused into the swipe right movement sneaks into your brand?

Just like people who fall into the trap of chasing the shiny thing as opposed to the right thing, many brands are also too focused on feeding their ego in an attempt to be “cool” by association. What do I mean?

Too many brands have an unhealthy fixation with youth

You would never advise putting blinkers on unless you have first done your market analysis and know where you need to drill down to acutely focus. It drives the wrong kind of behaviour, limiting the potential of organisations to thrive. Focus and fixation are very different things.

It’s possibly perpetuated by a misunderstanding of what makes a great brand. When you look at the biggest brands in the world today, depending on your source, you will almost always see Amazon, Apple, Google & Facebook at the top. This tends to skew perception. While at first glance they are all technology driven brands oriented around digital natives. They are actually organisations that have built an offering around understanding people. They didn’t work backwards from a demographic, but resolving human needs.

McCrindle research shows “Baby Boomers are a quarter of the population but own more than half of Australia’s national wealth. They are the beneficiaries of a near 50-year economic miracle, and they are unlikely to ease out of this accumulating any time soon.” They have loads of wants and needs – some yet to be defined. And it begs the question, why do brands act as if their dollars are of unequal worth? Because they do. Advertising luminary Bob Hoffman has been quoted saying brands “waste hundreds of millions of dollars pandering to people who don’t and won’t buy their products”. For me it really comes down to one thing. Ego.

So how do you know if your brand has an ego problem?

You are chasing someone who just isn’t good for you. It means you have lost your objectivity, or don’t have the right processes in place to assess things with balance. It’s highly likely this is you if your customers are unprofitable and you haven’t taken a position of loss leadership.

You are thinking with your mind, not the brand’s. People tend to stay younger in their minds than their bodies show. This is a big problem if you can’t detach yourself from your brand. It’s absolutely critical to remove yourself from the equation. Make sure you spend time with your customers – the ones you have, the ones you think you want and others you don’t really know and get a reality check.

You are being lead down the garden path by an agency that is chasing awards before rewards. It’s a common conundrum and it’s often compounded by the fact most agency people are young themselves. It’s an industry geared around ego, but as the brand custodian you need to be able to hold them accountable for their ideas. So make sure you have a good brief and you stick to it.

Finally remember…

Success is what’s cool. Watching over your shoulder at what your “trendier” competitors are doing and trying to do it a little better is not a good brand strategy. Brand planning at its heart is about finding your space and owning it. And that’s the best definition for cool I think you can have. The market just doesn’t have to be as small as brands often make it.

– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter

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