When I was a kid I knew how to fall. At least, it seems that way now. Probably I didn’t think about falling or much of anything else that seemed like the consequence of an action. So when I fell it was a surprise. And I bounced back up.
Kids are rubbery, as we know, so I survived intact the roughest of falls. Football on pavement; baseball on stone fields; basketball in driveways; bad bike tricks; play fights; real fights; my luck held up through them all. More than once I needed stitches, but I never broke a bone (that I know of). Ignorance helped — the distracted confidence of youth.
Learn How to Fall
I imagine a healthy brand ready to be as stupidly fearless as kid-me as I watched that big, gutter-gripping icicle I had dislodged from the neighbor’s house fall into my eye. I remember thinking, as that hunk of ice hurtled toward my head, “I did that!” I was pleased, even after the doctor sewed me up. Pretty happy about the scar, too.
Almost daily I try to recapture that falling fearlessness, minus the ignorance, and risk scrapes and scorn in pursuit of something great. Or special. Is a flying leap worth it? I think it is. Especially as we become more experienced and more settled in our routines. Brand consistency is essential, but today’s brands need to be more adaptive and engaging than brands of the past. Taking the occasional leap into “I think this’ll work!” territory should be a tactic, and part of an overall strategy of maintaining and improving brand health.
I’ve seen more than one big brand be too careful for too long. Here’s what generally happens: seemingly overnight their news is more about damage control/prevention than bold, positive action. Executives are fired and hired. A desperate new marketing campaign appears. A merger is announced. Everything’s better! But audiences aren’t buying it.
Ok, I’m being a bit melodramatic. There are decades of truth in it, though.
No, not every brand is built for a big leap. But a healthy brand will understand what kind of chances, and falls, it’s capable of making. Being too careful can be harmful to a brand, especially one looking to separate from the pack. If you don’t remember, or don’t know, how to fall, start practicing. Because falling isn’t failing — not for a healthy brand.