Anyone who’s made a cake from scratch knows that just about every cake recipe, regardless if it’s for carrot cake or devils food cake, calls for vanilla extract. But if vanilla flavoring is in just about every cake out there, does vanilla cake actually exist? Or is vanilla cake just… cake?
Plot twist! Moving past the bad analogy that’s really just an excuse to talk about cake, I’m actually talking about your brand. Here’s the thing–you see so many businesses trying to stand out with their “commitment to integrity,” “respect,” and “teamwork.” Those are all great things, and every business should exhibit those characteristics. But that’s just it–every business should be exhibiting that. It’s the baseline. If that’s what you think makes you different, your business is just… vanilla.
In order to create loyal customers, you have to take the next step. And that step is giving your customers something that they will either love or hate. There’s no room for lukewarm.
Think of it this way: If you sell cheese that’s just like every other cheese, sure, people might pick yours every now and then if they’re just looking for something to plop on a burger. But let’s say instead you sell cheese that was made with some secret Italian method passed down through your family, and each cheese comes in a fancy little wrapper with the Italian flag on it. Suddenly, it’s more than just cheese. Your cheese is fancy. And the people who eat it aren’t just your average cheese-eaters. They are eaters of fancy Italian cheese, and you’ve just given them something to tell their friends about. Because no one wants to be the boring kid in the corner who says “Oh hey, here’s cheese.” Instead, they get to say, “Look at this amazing cheese I found! Isn’t it just DIVINE?”
(…because obviously fancy people talk like that)
And you know what? There are some people who are going to hate your fancy cheese. They prefer good ol’ American cheese with bacon wrapped around it. But who cares? No one can appeal to everyone. And the truth of the matter is that you have to figure out who you don’t appeal to before you can figure out who you do.
Your customers need something to relate to. If you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one. However, when you put that proverbial stake in the ground, you’ll find the people who actually get your brand. And those are the only customers you need.