You're Not For Everyone



One of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is to think their brand can be for everyone.


It can't.


I can't think of a single great brand that is either universally loved, or universally hated... can you?


Some of my favourite brands include Costco, Disney, Google, Netflix, Nike, and Starbucks. Pretty great brands, right? Now visit your favourite search engine and type, "I hate [brand]" for any of these brands... and note the thousands upon thousands of results that come up just for that phrase.


There's a very good reason for that: truly great brands are polarizing.


When I worked for Starbucks years ago, I sometimes had to travel for business. Sometimes, I'd strike up casual conversations with the people who would be sitting in the seats next to me on airplanes. But I very quickly learned to avoid telling them where I worked at the beginning of a flight, because I always (without fail) got one of two reactions. Either the person was a Starbucks fan, and I'd spend the next 30 minutes (at least) having to politely listen as they told me all about their favourite drinks, favourite stores, and favourite baristas. Or they weren't a Starbucks fan (to put it mildly), and the next 30 minutes would be spent hearing all about how burnt Starbucks coffee tastes, how this big American chain was ruining coffee culture, and how much better it was to support independent coffee shops.


It was the surest sign that Starbucks was a great brand: love them or hate them, people usually had a strong opinion.


Starbucks coffee isn't for everybody. But the people who love Starbucks really, really love it. And Starbucks is much better off focusing on the people who will appreciate who they are and what they offer, versus trying to change themselves in order to please those who will likely never be happy with them. If you try to get the naysayers to like you, you risk losing what the advocates thought made you so special in the first place. And it's usually better to be thought of as exceptional to a smaller group than mediocre to a larger one.


Great brands aren't for everybody.


And neither are great people.


You might be smart, confident, and opinionated.


And some people will think you're too smart, too confident, and too opinionated.


That's perfectly okay.


I'm not saying you shouldn't consider the feedback you're given: whether you're a brand or a person, sometimes you can make minor tweaks that make you more broadly appealing.


But to completely overhaul who you are because you're not appealing to everyone? That will usually be a mistake.


You're not for everyone.


Be okay with that, and instead of trying to make everyone happy, concentrate your efforts on those who will appreciate you for who you are.


- dp