Be Bold (Without Crossing the Line)

Growing up, we were told to follow the rules and color inside the lines. In our professional, adult lives, however, fortune truly does favor the bold. In the marketing world, taking risks is even more crucial, as marketing efforts most often drive the face time your brand has in front of your audience. Taking positive risks typically leads to greater engagement from consumers and an increase in brand awareness and loyalty. But how can your brand be bold without becoming the next scandalous topic on every media outlet?

The recipe for optimum “boldness” involves the following ingredients:

  • Creativity and Originality: Conduct frequent brainstorms with your team to encourage the production of several truly original ideas. By implementing an initiative that no one else has done before – in your town, your industry, or anywhere for that matter – you will undoubtedly catch the attention of a larger audience.
  • Effective Messaging: You can initiate 1000 out-of-the-box campaigns that catch the attention of a vast array of people. However, without the right message, will this new potential customer base clearly understand who you are and what you do? Will they react in the ways you want them to? Probably not. Match equal parts boldness with equal parts effective messaging and you’re sure to convert the crowd into brand advocates in no time.
  • Stay OnBrand: Being bold does not mean you need to veer away from who you are as a brand. There is no need to compromise one for the other. Stick to your values, align with your mission, and stay within your style guide (when appropriate) to ensure the brand awareness you’re gaining is not towards something isn’t really you.
  • Target Audience: Regardless of what type of idea you choose to pursue, you must never forget who you are targeting. Be bold, but within your demographics’ sense of humor or mindset. Know that taking risks can have different reactions between generations, personality types and industries.
  • Timing: Timing is everything. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You don’t, for example, want to launch a bold campaign that involves a play on violence after the world has experienced a related tragedy. However, when appropriate, if you can respond to real-time situations with your marketing and communication tactics, you’re more likely to receive a positive response from your audience.

Here are a few examples of brands being bold, without crossing the line:

Oreo Super Bowl Ad

During this year’s Super Bowl, attendees experienced a blackout. Instead of airing a typical advertisement, Oreo responded with the above ad in real time. Oreo’s advertisement shows the importance of being responsive when marketing to consumers. The ad generated positive buzz throughout social media and publications ranging from Wired to The Wall Street Journal praised the brand’s creative response.

walker lukens

Here, dressed in crimson boxer-briefs, is Walker Lukens, a Texas singer/song-writer who isn’t afraid to go pantless for a picture in The Austin Chronicle. Told that he needed to have a strong photo in order to stand out in last month’s issue after SXSW, Lukens decided it was time to show off his bare gams to the city of Austin. His decision to be bold in the moment made for a greater appeal to his target audience, who are eclectic music lovers.

While being bold generally creates a positive response, some attempts at being bold have crossed the line into controversial territories:

Ford India Ad

The distasteful ad featured above was created by a Ford advertising agency in India. The ad depicted Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and three tied-up women in the trunk of his car. Ford responded saying that it never intended to release the ad and employees who were involved in its creation were immediately terminated. Shortly after the public release of the ad, Ford saw a 14 percent slump in deliveries.

This is an example of how not only your reputation, but also your bottom line, can be negatively affected when overlooking the potential for negative responses towards a bold marketing tactic. In order to appeal to your target audience, you must know their behaviors and respond in a creative manner. You must know where your strengths lie, but, more importantly, you must know what your weaknesses are and learn from them in order to bring out the bold appropriately.

How has your brand implemented bold marketing tactics?

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