Brands can’t afford to bore people.
Consumers have too many distractions—too many tweets, posts, videos, articles, you name it, pulling their attention elsewhere.
At the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival, blogger, author, and cartoonist Jessica Hagy
gave a presentation on Friday night about her latest book, “How To Be Interesting
.” Based on a popular post and slideshow she wrote for Forbes
, her talk was made to inspire individuals to be interesting instead of so, well, boring.
While many of the topics on the list were designed for individuals, some of her points could be applied to brands as well.
1. Be enthusiastic and generous
In such a cynical world, nearly everyone loves unbridled enthusiasm. When that is combined with generosity, we are over the moon. For instance, a brand like TOMS
is not only enthusiastic about placing shoes on children in third world countries, but also generous with their money to actually accomplish this mission. This inspires, and helps to sell a lot of shoes.
2. Embrace your weirdness
How often do we hear the words “corporate culture” tossed around today? It is more than just a buzz term; it can affect the perception of your brand. For instance, New Belgium Brewing pays homage to its flagship beer, Fat Tire, by hosting the Tour de Fat
, a costumed bicycle parade around the country.
Showing off the quirkiness of your culture can also inspire and engage your fans. At Rackspace, where I work, we created a Google Maps Street View of our headquarters in an abandoned mall
. This virtual walk-through shows off some of the quirkiness of our culture and has received a great response.
3. Have a cause
Hagy’s subheading to this point was, “If you don’t give a damn about anything, no one gives a damn about you.” When she talked about having a cause, I immediately thought of the Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why
.” In it, Sinek argues that companies that build strong brand loyalty understand and explain the “why” to their customers. Your “why” is your cause.
4. Listen more than you talk
In the ever-evolving world of social media, brands have an excellent opportunity to listen to their consumers. Instead of feeble attempts to get people to fill out paper surveys, people are constantly tweeting and posting thoughts about your brand without being asked. Whether positive or negative, we can always learn something from our consumers. Take a page from Southwest Airlines playbook
and spend some time listening to what people are saying.
5. Develop intestinal fortitude
Hagy said it’s time to “grow a pair” and be brave. Try new things. Take a stand. Be bold. The world is too tepid. By being brave, your brand can stand out above the pack.
As Hagy closed, she said something that is true for individuals and companies: “You are the protagonist of your own story, you might as well make it interesting.”
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Garrett Heath blogs for Rackspace and has experience as a technical project manager in the cloud. He enjoys writing about how the cloud is spurring innovation for startups, small businesses, and enterprises. Follow him on Twitter @pinojo and Google+.