We had a beautiful meeting on Wednesday of this week, presenting some work to Ambleside School of Fredericksburg. We have been working hard to re-align a core brand story statement into something that really relates well, but stands strongly and Zags hard. We started into a discussion on the statement. It provoked some old connotations that were, gently stated, not so positive.
I felt firmly about the decision to remain on our track, embracing the statement as it was written, but have still wanted to flesh out some of the thinking before I totally commit to the principle in my own mind and especially in my heart.
I believe, in marketing or otherwise, changing someone’s mind about something is next to impossible, and certainly extremely expensive. A great example is Lincoln, the car brand. For all of their might, and their cunning and for all the money spent on cool McConaughey and friends, they are still trying to tell me that a Lincoln is NOT for old people. I disagree. Lincolns are absolutely for old people. And the people in their ads? I have never seen someone cool or sexy jump out of a Lincoln. It’s completely under-believable. They will not change my mind. I doubt they will change anyone else’s either.
But, they might be able to inform my already firmly established perception. If they just came out and said, “Yes, Lincoln is absolutely for old people.” I would say, “Thank you! Finally! I agree!” Then they could say something like, “Do you want to know why that is?” Well, yes. Since we agree on the major point at hand, why not get an explanation. I like talking to people I agree with, so sure, I am curious to hear their reasoning.
“Well, Lincolns were the iconic American car for generations. Look at pictures of the 40’s,50’s,60's,70's and see what a heritage we had. People saw their cars as friends, crucial to their personal history. They talked about their cars like they were great pets, or even cousins. We build cars because we believe it should be deserving of that place in your life. We do this by stripping out all the gizmos, and non-essential crap that floods your life. We spend our money and energy on steel that won’t rust, paint that doesn’t chip, suspension that rides better than a Mercedes, and points of contact that feel like they belong near a human being. Here’s a warranty to provide peace of mind, but that you won’t actually ever need. We don’t believe that warranties should even be necessary. Wanna buy one?”
You see, my opinion is being informed by Truth. I can agree to their first statement, the conversation opens with actual, researchable footage. Then it connects with me internally. I remember my aunt’s and uncle’s stories about their old cars. The 3X expensive car sitting in the garage means nothing to them compared to that old $2,000 ride from ’59. There are stories and memories abounding in those old machines. Why do you think there is such a mass consumption of old cars? I had a ’74 BMW 2002tii for about 9 months, and I got it. Whenever it was actually running, it was a complete blast to drive. I even got stranded in a backwoods town in Texas with a blown alternator. That car wasn’t a tool, it was an adventure-mobile. A vast trove of unexpectancy.
You see, someone can tell you why they do what they do, and that resonates with all of us. But the more I discover the reason why, I begin asking for proof. What is your story that has led you to this belief? Is it a sincere belief? Or is it just a nice vision of what you want to believe sometime in the future. Which is fair. But I will buy from you down the road when it’s real, and look for the guy who has the truthful story that validates his reason-for-being.
You must have a reason for believing what you do. Every great brand needs a testimony to back it up. And if that testimony connects with people, if it is an identifiable journey to believing, then people follow it in droves. We have to show our human side in order to effectively connect with humans. Apple was great because it a had a human being we could connect with in Steve Jobs. A Mac was an extension of his personal story. We bought into his ideals because we believed he was very capable of believing those things and had fought hard for them. He believed in the challenging the status quo, but more than that, he did it.
“We are men of action, lies do not become us.”
-Wesley, The Princess Bride (William Goldman)
Who do you want to support? Where do you invest your loyalty? With a man or woman of action? Or with someone who may or may not really believe in what they say. Worse than all of that, do you want to agree with someone who comes out of the gate saying, “You’re wrong about us!”
I think I’ll stick to my guns.
Don’t try to change someone’s mind.
Rather, inform their opinion with the Truth.