Start Up Blog

Can boring brands create word of mouth?

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 8, 2010

This is the sixth of my crowd sourced blog entry ideas as suggested by Ben Rowe. Ben wanted to get my thoughts on the following: 

“Can boring brands and products create word of mouth?” Discuss.

In a word, no. But given the task is to discuss, I’d say the fact that matters here is the word emotion. Does a brand generate an emotional response from the audience. Does it generate passion and fervor?  Good or bad? If the response isn’t emotional. There will be no discussion.

The product or service may be very good, have a reasonable price and even be a market leader. Yes it may suffice or dominate it’s category, like cornflakes do as breakfast cereal, but I’m hardly about to email my brother with a link to the Kelloggs website.

We need to think about things that are emotional responses: Joy, Anger, Sadness, Elation, Fury, Disappointment, Love, Hate….

The heavy emotions every human is familiar with. A brand has to engender these type of emotional responses to get on the word of mouth agenda. Case in point is banks. They are seen to take advantage of their customers, and we have a strong distrust and hate for them. And even though the response is negative, it’s emotional and generates a great deal of discussion. That is, it’s not boring. It’s often the case that brands which have factional parties in the for and against camp (love / hate) generate the most word of mouth. Some recent examples of brands with this effect include:

Hummer

Krispy Kreme

Mac

Google

Will it blend

Cadbury Gorilla

All of these have been worth talking about. Our brand reputations as people wouldn’t be hindered if we mentioned these.

As far as start ups are concerned we should thinking less about trying to generate a viral campaign, and more about the emotional impact our offer has on our audience. Being new and innovative isn’t enough, it’s got to have an emotional impact on people. With boring brands we are simply indifferent, and so we just get on with our lives.

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2 Responses

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  1. Nicole Aspen said, on March 11, 2010 at 5:09 am

    I liked your approach about being emotional, create something meaninful for your customers. But, I would have started by defining what a boring brand is. Would you clarify this point? I think it could be interesting to know the differences between a boring brand, a funny brand and a professional brand.

    My point of view is that brands doesn´t matter at all, brands will not add value to your business. Your products/services, your customer service, your campaigns, your PR´s will create goodwill around your business.

  2. Andrew Birt said, on March 18, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Great post as always Samma.

    However, I’d argue that boring brands can in rare instances create word of mouth.

    Best example is the Will it Blend series of kitsch infomercials by Blendtec:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/Blendtec

    Great case study here about the success of the campaign for an otherwise unremarkable brand: http://www.mooball.com/blog/will-it-blend-a-viral-marketing-case-study


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