It is a familiar scene. You meet someone new at a marketing event and you both start talking about your respective companies. The other person begins talking about the protective gloves their company designs for industrial construction workers and how they’re safe, stronger, and lighter than any other gloves on the market. Then, just as they finish, they deflate a little and say,
“So you know…. My brand is boring. Nothing really interesting. We could never do the digital marketing you do. No one wants to read about us. It’s just boring.”
No matter what you thought up to that point, your eyes roll a little.
Don’t Apologize For Your Work
I rarely have a conversation with someone about their work that doesn’t include a comment about how the product or service they market isn’t exciting, sexy, or interesting. Usually the comment takes the form of an apology with a hint of embarrassment. Something that says that producing a useful product and working hard to make it successful is something to be ashamed of!
My advice to all of you: stop right now. I’ll even say it nicely. Please stop saying that the brand you market is uninteresting. Stop saying that your work is boring. Saying this undermines the entire concept of your industry! I’ll even prove it to you with a sexy, exciting, interesting list of reasons why:
1. Saying something is boring makes you sound boring.
Remember the old phrase “Only boring people get bored?” That also applies to your career, and do you really want to promote yourself as a person with no sense of gratitude or imagination? When you say your work is “blah” people imagine you sit slack-jawed at a plain desk in a dusty cubicle in a room with no windows, no pictures, and no hope.
No one wants to leave this impression but that is exactly the image you paint when you describe your job as BORING, and who wants to turn to that person for opinions, advice, or new opportunities? Not me.
2. You sound like you don’t know what you’re doing
This is our job as marketers. We find what make things sexy and interesting. It is our mission to dig out the stories and feelings that our brand evokes. We must know what problems our brand solves and what that means to the people whose lives are affected by us.
I guarantee that there are tons of interesting stories in the history of your company no matter how old it is. Chances are you already know some of them, you just need to put them to good use.
This ability to be curious and dig for stories should carry over into our lives. If we want people to be fascinated with what we promote, we must remember how to be fascinated ourselves. From that perspective, thinking about our clients’ products should be one of the most exciting parts of our job.
3. All brands are “boring”
One of my mentors taught me that all brands could be considered boring and it changed my career when I realized how true it was. Rarely will a brief or lead land on your desk with an inherently interesting product, and there is a very simple reason why. When you boil nearly every product down to what it is at it’s most basic level – ALL products could be considered “boring.”
If you don’t believe me, think about some of your favorite interesting brands. What are they really in the simplest sense?
- Doritos: A powdered corn chip
- Coca-Cola: Sugar water
- Beyonce: A singer
- Uber: Car rides
- Game of Thrones: A book and series (and why it is so enthralling)
- NFL: People running around in tight clothes, following arbitrary rules for fake points
What these brands have all successfully done is gone past the product to develop a sexy, inspiring, and exciting personality and culture. They have dug deep to extract an interesting story about their products and invited you to be a part of it. Where is there room to be bored or embarrassed by this?
Stand Out from the Crowd
Resist the urge to downplay your industry and your role within your company. Instead of commenting on how your brand is boring, infuse the conversation with pride, confidence, and excitement for what you do and see how different the reactions are in the short and long term. You’ll find that not only will you do right by your brand, but you will do yourself a favor by leaving an impression of an interesting, confident, and eager professional.
And that is FAR from boring.
What are your thoughts? Why else shouldn’t you talk about how your brand is boring?