Superman should have put Lex Luther on the payroll.
Without good ole’ Lex, Superman is just a strong cop with a fancy logo. Think about it, Superman really didn’t shine until he had to foil Lex from sinking California into the Pacific. Superman had a bad-ass story when he had a villain.
A great Social Brand Story needs a villain too. Look closely and you’ll see a villain behind every great brand. Villains make for great stories and great stories attract passionate Tribes.
Take a look…
- Salesforce.com went to war against software. They’re winning – big time.
- Linux shoved Windows (that Penguin is a tough birdie), inspired millions, and built a darn good operating system in the process
- Apple picked a fight with Adobe Flash and the cult of Mac is lining up to fight…
- LessAccounting.com says “QuickBooks Sucks” – I (and hundreds of others) agree with them
Each of these companies kicked someone in the shins and gave their brand evangelists something to rally around. A “Cause” is a powerful motivator and almost always breathes life into a brand’s story.
Why Social Brands Have to Get Mean
If your blog can’t get any traction online then you’re probably too nice. Are you agreeing with everyone? Are you trying not rock the boat and take the high road? This works great for retired Presidents – it sucks for Brands.
In the Social space your followers need to know what they stand for. They need to understand when to “unleash hell”, raise the flag, and storm the hill. They rely on you to clearly point out the bad guy and say “they are wrong” and explain why.
Here’s How it Works
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating you be a bully. Frankly it’s not needed. You just need to define what problem your brand solves and go to war with the troublemaker.
Brand: Atkins Diet
Problem: “Love Handles”
Villain: Carbs (or basically everything I love to eat!)
Brand: Round Up
Problem: Weeds in the Lawn
Villain: Pretender Weed Killers
Problem: Complicated Project Management Software
Villain: Microsoft Project
Although people, companies, and products make great villains, the strategy works just as well with ideas and concepts.
By the way, don’t worry if your chosen villain chooses to fight back! The tussle will attract even more followers to your cause.
Don’t Go Overboard
My dad always told me to never start a fight but always make sure that I finished it. Obviously I didn’t listen too well because I’m telling you to pick a fight! But, make sure that you don’t get so fixated on the villain that you forget your brand’s social media objectives.
At the end of the day, you want your brand to take center stage. So always steer the conversation back to your brand’s core story and benefits.