We’ve raised a few eyebrows with all our talk about guts. Particularly when we promised our clients we’ll serve up their guts on a plate. But it’s really not as aggressive or messy as it sounds. At StudioLR, ‘guts’ stands for two things – substance and bravery. If you’re looking to sharpen up your brand and stand-out, here’s where we’d start…
Part 1. Strategic substance
(AKA: Getting to the guts)
Having guts doesn’t mean shouting the loudest, or being the brashest brand in the room. It’s about knowing exactly what you stand for, and having total conviction in it.
It’s a question of focus. Sharp, single-minded focus. What is the one thing you want to be famous for? Don’t confuse narrow with small – a sharp, singular focus will propel you much further than a vague notion. Like a powerful power hose, rather than a sad puddle.
Here’s an example…
Imagine you just wanted your business to behave and be known as ‘good’. Seems fairly safe territory, doesn’t it? But think of the resources you’d have pour into covering all that vague ground. And think of the contradictions you’d have to make to your team and your customers…
- You’d have to prove you were fast and responsive (because that’s ‘good’) but also that you were considered and fastidious with the details (also good)
- You’d have to prove you were big and reliable but also small enough to be personal and to really care
- You’d have to prove you were interested in unity, teamwork, and community but also that you had ‘stand-out’ and valued individualism
- You’d have to prove you took safety and security seriously but also that you took risks to innovate
To be useful, brands have to be much sharper than people.
You’re probably familiar with these ‘everything to everyone’ sorts of strategies. The definition of ‘good’ is so wide that it’s almost impossible to convey and is an instantly-forgettable brand. Brands built on vagueness become walking contradictions that stand for nothing. They’re more expensive to build as they have to cover so much ground. Their employees don’t know what’s expected of them – so they don’t give a consistent service. And their customers don’t feel anything about them beyond the function of the product.
People are walking contradictions. We all are. But people care about people. Nobody inherently cares about your brand. Nobody will devote the time to really get to know every side of your brand.
A singular, sharp focus will make you stand-out, be memorable and easier for people to understand. And, if you’re really lucky, to relate to too.
Getting to that singular focus takes a lot of gut-digging – poking around deep in the workings of your organisation, asking awkward questions about your leader’s vision, your competitive landscape, and your customer’s wishes. But once we get it, the rest is (almost) easy…
Part 2. Creative bravery
(AKA: Having guts)
Armed with a single, sharp focus, we put our efforts into magnifying, dramatising, and following through on it – 100%.
The beauty of focus is that it takes some of the subjectivity out of judging creative work. And it takes some of the personal risk out of making ‘brave’ work.
We’re no longer looking for ideas we ‘like’, or the ‘best’ ideas. We’re looking for ideas that are right and ideas that are the most [insert your brand focus here].
If your brand was focused on freedom (like Harley Davidson), whether you’re judging a new product idea, a sponsorship opportunity, a new product name, an ad campaign, brand identity development – your question is always ‘Is this the most free?’ rather than ‘Is this the best?’ or ‘Do I really like this?’.
Not everyone in your team has to like it. But everyone should remember it. And see how it fits your brand’s sharp focus. Remember, camp-splitting is usually the sign of a high-impact idea – it’s hard to have a genuinely strong opinion on a bland idea.
Focus gives you a license to think big, and create surprising, eye-catching, stand-out work. Safe in the knowledge that it’s underpinned by a sound, consistent strategy. It’s not about a marketer’s ‘bravery’, or willingness to gamble with their career. It’s about their guts to believe in their decisions, to shun vagueness, and to commit to building a sharp, valuable brand.
Great piece!! Spot on!! Will have to share!!
Hi Lucy. A really good article (as always). One of the challenges I have found on my travels around Africa (Egypt, Nigeria and now Uganda) is counterfeit products competing with the real product. More and more brand managers here are looking for brand safeguards such as holograms, QR codes and RFID tags.
This is such a challenge for brands in Africa and in particular international brands.