Thursday, October 22, 2009

'Fitting In' Versus 'Breaking Through' -- The Differences in Brand Relationships

Brands and agencies often talk about connecting with consumers as a means of disruption, or a way of cutting through all the media clutter.

However, R/GA’s Nick Law said it best: “Instead of asking ‘How do we break through?’, marketers should be asking ‘How do we fit in?’”

Here are what the differences might look like:


  • rising up against the tide of consumer adoption, as opposed to riding along with it
  • pushing underlying messages more so than creating conversations, or better yet, building brand stories
  • looking at products as a consumer affinity, instead of value adds as a lifestyle choice
  • exhibiting hubris – thinking that your brand destinations will guarantee engagement
  • thinking of utility as a technology solution, not a cultural benefit
  • deferring to shock value, instead of social value
  • planning merely in terms of a campaign, instead of creating currency that can last indefinitely
  • capturing consumer attention, not building loyalty


  • thinking about all marketing functions as somehow cause-related
  • bringing a higher purpose to all brand interactions and purchase decisions
  • socializing all media efforts by creating experiences that can be shared, regardless of platform or channel
  • enabling people to adopt brand stories as their own, or, collaborating with them to create new ones
  • recognizing that people are loyal to information & content, not destinations
  • moving with market demand, not ad inventory demand
  • crowdsourcing product development & marketing outreach when necessary
  • not being afraid to fail in the process of developing new consumer insights

Please, by all means, add to the list!

1 comment:

Charlie Quirk said...

Great stuff G,

The breaking through/fitting in paradigm is becoming clear by the day. It speaks to that Hugh Macleod quote I mentioned earlier - "if someone spoke to you the way most ads do, you'd punch them in the face."

Chris Brogan often uses the line "Don't be that guy." In the conversation age this means that whether you're a F100 or individual your contributions to others shouldn't be one-way, self-serving, social nicety ignoring, diatribe of crap. Unfortunately this has been the case for far too long.

Brands must seek to fit in - contribute to the conversation, adding of value to the lives of the people they interact with.
Identifying behavioral changes in society and seek to enhance human experiences, not just profit from them.