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Are you boring or polarizing?

leadership strategy May 01, 2019

Marketing experts know that it can be quite a good strategy to deliberately build a brand that a certain number of people would rather hate than like. The rationale behind this counterintuitive idea: it is better to be known for SOMETHING—even if this is controversial —than for NOTHING.

The more emotional this “something” is, the better. Logic (boring for most people) makes people think, but only emotions make people act.

The point is that if you play this game carefully, there will be more people who love your brand for exactly the same traits that other people hate it.

Basically, this is the same logic that applies to the Blue Ocean Strategy: find benefits, features, or values that make you stand out from the crowd. If you stay the same as many others, then—no matter how good you are—you will have a difficult business life, troubled with price war and/or the need to deliver ever-more features for less costs.

Here comes the twist: the same applies to any change project within your organization, including strategy implementations. The changes do not have to be loved by every employee, but it must be clear for everybody what these changes stand for. Nothing is worse for a strategy than a wishy-washy approach that stands for everything and nothing.

You think this doesn’t apply to your strategy or change project? Then take this little test:

  1. Explain the 1 – 3 key goals in no more than 3 sentences within one minute. What will be different after the implementation than before?
  2. Explain within less than two minutes why you are passionate about this change. If you as a leader are not emotional about the strategy, then it will most likely not be implemented.
  3. Explain within three minutes why people will love the change and what they might hate about the change. Yes, you got it right: polarize! Make clear what you and your strategy stand for!

Tip: record these three topics (six minutes in total) on video and distribute your message on all available channels. People will love you for the new clarity. And some will hate you for the changes coming. This is exactly what you want!

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