I love me some David Attenborough. A good nature series is the perfect crux of education, escapism, and relaxation; top it off with that staple British accent and you know its quality. Give me an episode featuring species that are incomprehensibly and intelligently visually vivacious; colorful avian, reptilian, amphibious, insect or oceanic creatures and I’m beyond intrigued.
Why? These are among those that use the beauty of their appearance for specific attraction (or warning). This attempt at attraction (if you haven’t heard the Kati Perry song) is called peacocking.
Which begs the question: If you want to stand out; to attract; to influence; why do you insist on looking so horribly boring?
I’ll tell you.
Over the last few decades there has been an overwhelming migration from distinct brand visuals to what has now been coined ‘blanding’ or bland branding.
We saw this particular shift with major fashion houses like Chanel, Burberry and Yves Saint Laurant when once complicated and visually distinguished logos all began to channel the same minimal, no-character marks. This style gradually made its way across industries only to filter down into small businesses and startups.
So chances are, you thought this was a good idea for your business too.
But in branding, mimicking is the ultimate form of self sabotage. While riding the trend or looking to the masses for inspiration might have seemed like a good idea, blanding has shown us how no one has a place if everyone looks the same.
Burberry just recently shifted back to its roots, which proves my point, but that’s for another day.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Nature cares about one thing: the survival of species. And what are all species engineered to do? To use their authentic selves as means for that survival.
Countless species of birds showcase radiant feathers to attract a mate. Octopi and chameleons shift camouflage to match their surroundings to evade predators or snag prey. The bright colors of Poison Dart Frogs ward off predators. Seahorses change color depending on threat or mood.
Nearly every species of flora and fauna use their inherent authenticity to promote the success of their lineage.
In our [business] case, the lineage is our brand.
Every brand needs some form of functional drama; the same way that nature uses heightened beauty to work to their advantage.
No, I’m sorry to say, that doesn’t always warrant glitter and parachute pants as much as that would fill me with glee. But it does mean heightening specific authentic components of ourselves and our companies to serve us intentionally.
Perhaps you only want to work with like-minded people, so you ward off anyone else on purpose (hello Mr. Dart Frog). This could be through very distinct language or a stance on a topic or political opinion.
Maybe you’re a personal brand who has a strong ethos and opinion on your competitors and a high fashion photoshoot (definitely something with a cape) would do the trick to bristle some feathers.
It’s the same application that nature has been using successfully since the beginning of time.
I’ve said it before, you aren’t as boring as you think you are. Here are four ways you can heighten your authenticity and start to peacock the sh*t out of that brand.
Ho-hum branding does nothing but reinforce our already boring, ho-hum lives. Consumers need different to shift them out of the sediment. Using your authentic personality is the edge you didn’t know you had. You've already got it, so why not flaunt it? Like creatures in nature, using your inherent flair, drama and art will only help to sift toward the target audience you’ve been aiming for.
Now, I could belabor this point, but instead I’ll leave you with this.
In the wise words of Bloodhound Gang, you and me ain’t nothin’ but mammals so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.
Starting a podcast sounds fun. Until the silence rolls in. Let's unravel where I went right and where I went so so wrong.