Why does everything taste like purple?
Years ago, a childhood friend pointed out to me that purple was a flavor. It’s true. Until then, I hadn’t realized, but grape-flavored things don’t taste like actual grapes. They taste like purple. So many things in life are artificial: artificial flavors, artificial hair color, artificial Christmas trees, toupees, and whatever fishy imposter calls itself a “crab stick.” Where’s the real stuff?
Let them eat grapes.
Authenticity is king. We’ve all heard the adage, “content is king,” but the content must be amazing. It can’t just be content for the sake of content. Amazing content is authentic.
Give the people real grapes. They’re healthy, they’re sweet, and they are the primary ingredient in wine. Grapes are awesome! In our highly competitive and sometimes very saturated marketplace, everything can start to taste a little purple. Now more than ever, brands must dig deep to find attention-grabbing points of differentiation.
Transparency is an important part of being truly authentic. It’s also an important part of building trust in your brand. Grapes don’t pretend to be something that they’re not. Real grapes are always authentic, even when they’re a little sour.
Don’t drink the Flavor Aid.
Speaking of purple-flavored things, authenticity, and sour circumstances, Kool-Aid’s nationwide brand awareness sparked the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” in response to the Jonestown massacre in 1978. Thanks to the Kool-Aid Man and some flashy advertising, the popular soft drink received some very controversial press and a bit of tarnished jargon. What’s even more impressive (and ironic) is that the cyanide-laced soft drink was grape-flavored Flavor Aid, not Kool-Aid and the very epitome of “purple.” The branding bright side? Kool-Aid persevered and despite the crisis (and the abundance of sugar), it’s still positioned as a family-friendly household staple. "Oh, yeaahh!"
So what’s my point?
A common misconception is that a brand is a company’s logo and tagline, mascot, or color palette. Those items are important means to communicate a company’s key messages, but a brand is so much more than that.
A brand is a tangible representation of a company’s past, present, and future. A brand represents core values, beliefs, and points of differentiation. A brand is a company’s essence; the feeling evoked by a company’s core story. No two are alike. Logos, taglines, and other branding tools are simply visual representations of that story. They are not the brand itself.
Embrace your authenticity. Embrace the sour grapes. Take the good with the bad, and build your brand upon your company’s character. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn and to build experience. One does not become a true expert by always succeeding. Experts only become experts because they have tried and failed, and faced both crisis and celebration. They know what to do and what not to do.
What challenges has your company faced, and how did you overcome them?
What flavor is your Kool-Aid?