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How Loathing Can Strengthen Your Brand

Sometimes the things that people dislike most can be used to great advantage for your brand.

Chances are, before you started your business, you said to yourself, "I'm going to start my own business, and I'm going to do it MY way!"

You looked around your industry, saw what your competitors were doing, and decided to do things a little bit differently. Some of the practices you saw only steeled your desire to take a different approach to the same challenge. You saw them screwing up and decided to use it to your advantage. Heck, you flat out said, "Why do they do that?! I hate when they do that!" That's a point of loathing. It's the idea that all things being equal, you would not do that one thing because frankly, it ticks people off. It makes customers yank a star (or three) off of their review.

Have you ever heard of the proverbial "unreliable contractor"? You know, you book an appointment with him and he unapologetically shows up three hours late (if he shows up at all). Why can't they keep an appointment? It seems so easy. Yet, it seems so few are up to the task.

How about the mechanic that, no matter what seems to wrong with your car, charges practically the same amount every time? Really, can't it ever be, "Good news sir! It was simply your Johnson rod that worked its way loose so I just reattached and tightened it. No charge!" No, the bill is always $400 every time I go because some mysterious part had to be replaced.

Sure, things happen. That's the way business goes. Maybe. But for everybody? Isn't this why these folks get the reputations they get?

But guess what! If you're in one of these fields you've got a distinct advantage over your nefarious counterparts. You get the opportunity to build a strong brand quickly. Be the "reliable contractor" who always shows up at the agreed time. Be the (seriously) honest mechanic who once in while sends you on your way because it really was your Johnson that came loose. You'd likely be the only one.

I do this all the time with my clients. During our two-hour Discovery session I inevitably ask them the loathing question. It gets them thinking. Nobody ever asks them this so more often than not it's the first time they really thought about it. At least from a strategic angle anyway.

Ask yourself, "What is it that I reallllllly dislike about my industry. How about this: ask two dozen of your customers and your competitors' customers what ticks them off about the businesses in your industry. Ohh boy, you'll probably open the floodgates because when you ask a person a critical question they love to give their two cents. More like two bucks worth, of what they don't like. That's why shoppers go to Amazon just to read the reviews, even if they don't buy there. Those reviews are brutally honest. They're also a goldmine of valuable insight into what people like and don't like about pretty much anything.

If you don't really have much of a brand, this one method can really start to separate you from the pack. Just remember to thank your competitors for screwing up.

Rob Genovesi is a husband, father and Chief Beast at Unleash My Beast Brand, a branding and design company built specifically to help service-based businesses break away from being bland by coaching them on how to raise their image and their game above the average, same-same businesses in their industry.
Rob speaks regularly on the topics of design and branding, and hosts the “Building Beast Brands” podcast.
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