Brands who claim an appetite for bold content are just virtue signalling!

We’ve all sat in brainstorms where detractors find reason or cause to not do something. The naysayers who police everyone and everything despite never being asked to do so. They’re also the people who never find a solution to the myriad of problems they’ve erected in front of every good idea. They’re also the very people who will claim to desire bold content. Happy to share with peers the rhetoric that they believe will foster respect and attention. By sharing the wishful view they’re trying to position themselves as someone with higher standards of creativity. Yet, they find every reason to never embrace new creativity.

Virtue signalling is rightly being called out when brands and people align with moral ideals pertaining to life and equality. Yet, we’re not recognising its daily occurrence in business. Board rooms, more than ever, vie for hard-earned market share. Competition is sharper and tougher as consumer and business spends have been impacted by Covid-19. The need to stand out from the crowd is more important than ever.

Leadership and marketing teams will gather on Zoom to discuss the need to deliver said content. Many will state a need and desire to do something new. To stand-out. To be bold. The claimed boldness fosters much enthusiasm and brands march forward uniting their creative teams on the new appetite and direction. Much excitement shared.

Fast-forward to the internal reveals of three creative treatments and the aforementioned naysayers come to the fore. Throwing the historic brand book, tone and past creative visions in the path of those treading the new bold creative path. Because the new bold content is different and not what the brand is used to publishing, it’s deemed wrong. Except Mr or Miss Naysayer has forgotten the fundamental flaw in his or her argument: the brand has not been bold before. Of course, the previous content won’t look like the presented. It was weak. Diluted. Watered down by an ingrained conservative approach to attacking category.

Bold and stand-out content does not mean controversial or brand-damaging. It doesn’t mean crude or rude. It could mean content that’s tangential to your norm as you breach new audiences and demographics. It may mean broadening your content purpose and tonality. It definitely means your leadership and spokespeople being more opinionated on topics resonating with your business. Remember how boring those breakfast news interviews are when the ‘expert guest’ doesn’t answer a question or offer an opinion?!

Being bold is not just about being the pioneer of a new digital component or treatment. It could be as simple as doing something that flies in the face of industries’ norm. Kowtowing to industry and the ways of old is why many brands fall behind, caught up in the ‘this is how industry does it’ mentality.

To be bold, strong senior leadership is required. Execs who will help to chart the business to the newly defined direction. Leadership will understand the originating trigger for bold content. If the head-honcho, be it a CEO, CMO or Marketing Director are reaffirming with teams that it’s OK to create different. Comforting teams with the surety that creating something detached from the historic norm, whether successful or not, is OK and what we want, then more marketers are likely to embrace change and the new direction. Few naysayers are behaving in that vein because they want to derail the process. They do so as they believe it conflicts with business principles. If leadership disarm that element, the way is clear to embrace new ideals. People management is critical in walking the walk of boldness. Some people are equipped with the ability to leap into something new. They harness a resolute belief in success and can leap to a new initiative with little reserve. Others are more analytical of all outcomes and more likely to over-think before they leap. Entrepreneurs are typically the former – not that they don’t possess analytical or numeric minds. They absolutely do! An entrepreneur’s composure and drive within a new arena is what sets them aside. It’s what led them to create your business. When stepping up to be bold, they’ve got a duty to impart enthusiasm, energy and belief to those around them. People management is as important as creating the bold. Create a positive blank canvas environment to create and naysayers become advocates. Ideas proliferate, good ideas are polished to great ideas. Truly bold and ground-breaking content can be found.

Much has changed in industry and business over the years. 2020, for reasons we all know, has presented unique hurdles few expected to encounter in our lifetimes. To take some good from this years’ experience, it’s taught many businesses and their people, to be better problem solvers. Pre-Covid 19 could you have envisaged the need to pivot an entire business to home working in a matter of hours?

Special things can happen if unnecessary roadblocks are removed and the right direction is applied to an environment. New visions and creative treatments can be found. New audiences located. New impressions imprinted upon a growing number of hearts and minds. New market share snaffled.

Claiming a desire for bold content should never be virtue signalling. It should be the initiator of an exciting period for your business as you break new ground. It should also be the starter’s gun for execs to step up and lead with equal boldness.

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