Why ‘should’ can take a long walk off a short pier

A bright yellow pool deck with a chrome ladder that leads to turquoise water - you SHOULD dive in  Hot on the heels of an exceptionally hot European summer and CNN naming Copenhagen as the best city in the world for swimming, the nearby beaches and harbors are still teeming with people cooling off in the open water. When I complain about the heat, I’m often told, ‘You should go for a dip!’

The only valid reason I can see for swimming is to avoid death by drowning – but that ‘should’ stops me in my tracks. It carries a sense of obligation, judgement, pressure and, most of all, guilt.

I don’t like to swim, but I should.

Should is for things we don’t want to do. Should is based on the expectations of others. Should is inconsistent with our own values and how we want to behave.

So, what does my dislike of swimming have to do with marketing, branding or strategy? Honestly, not a thing – but my dislike of should is highly relevant.

It’s not uncommon for marketing managers and CMOs to feel as though they shouldhave a presence on every social media network, or they should be bright and splashy, or they should do what their competitors are doing.

But brand authenticity has never been more important and credibility can be a company’s strongest asset. Stay true to your corporate values and marketing strategy and don’t get pushed around by the shoulds. There will always be new trends and more marketing possibilities than any company could ever actually implement, but not all of them will fit your company. Keep your values, brand and strategy in mind throughout your marketing efforts – and don’t rush into something new just because you should. As HMV very publicly learned with Twitter years ago, sometimes the pitfalls of using a new technology vastly outweigh the benefits – particularly if you don’t have proper processes in place.

Of course, it’s healthy to step outside your comfort zone, to be creative and push the envelope – just make sure it’s authentic for your company’s brand. And don’t jump off the diving board unless you actually want to!


This post was originally published on Integrated B2B.

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