Have you seen the A&E show ‘Hoarders’? It’s the captivating real life story of Hoarders and the events leading up to an intervention of sorts, that helps them clean their homes and resume a reasonably normal life. According to the show, ‘Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder marked by an obsessive need to acquire and keep things, even if they are worthless, hazardous, or unsanitary.’ Now, I’m not talking about your garden variety messy home with a few odds and ends cluttering up an otherwise livable abode. The hoarders homes are unnavigable, stuffed to the hilt with rotting food, garbage, broken furniture, piles upon piles of clothing, you get the picture. It is compelling look at a very peculiar mental illness, in a ‘can’t-look-away-from-a-traffic-accident’ sort of way.
The thing that struck me, was the interaction between the hoarders and the psychologists/volunteers cleaning their homes. The hoarders seem to inherently know there is no good reason to keep seven disgustingly rotting pumpkins in their kitchen along with other equally inedible food products. Yet, when a volunteer attempts to throw away the soupy-mess that was once a pumpkin, the hoarder stops them. The psychologist intervenes and observes that the pumpkins have no useful purpose because they are rotten beyond salvation. The hoarders answer; “What if I want to grow pumpkins some day.”
When it comes to creating your brand or undertaking a re-brand, it’s important to realize that, like the hoarders, you simply cannot keep every aspiration and possible attribute in your brand and have it mean anything. You can not be the low-cost, premium-quality, funny, serious, american-made, import, one-size-fits-all brand. It will never work, at least not in a meaningful way. Be diligent and thoughtful as you pursue a brand purpose that is authentic to what your product or service is at its core. Yes, you will be forced to make some tough decisions about what your brand will be, but you can not keep all the yucky pumpkin seeds, because, well, they are just disgusting.
“But what about the possible customers that won’t be attracted to my brand because I’ve planted my flag and they don’t like what I’m saying?” My answer; would you rather have customers or passionate believers? Are you looking for transactions, or brand zealots, who experience your brand again and again? And, more importantly, tell their friends about you.
I’m sure at one point in time, someone on the board of Chick-Fil-A may have suggested adding variety to their menu. I can hear the conversation as some VP of new product innovation made his or her case for a Hamburger-Fil-A, because, “That’s such a massive market, why wouldn’t we add hamburgers to our menu?” Why indeed.