Why Brand Vulnerability Can Be A Strength

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For a large portion of history, gaining credibility as a brand has been synonymous with projecting a squeaky-clean image.

It’s no wonder really. When we first lay eyes on a shiny new brand, we’re quick to judge it based on numerous things; the message it’s conveying or how it resonates with us, but often these things can be trumped by one thing: image. Or, how the brand image is perceived.

The image of a brand and how it’s perceived are huge factors. They determine whether or not we invest precious time finding out more about it, and if we should part with our cash.

In recent years, however, there’s been numerous examples of brands embracing their flaws. Using their perceived ‘weaknesses’ to bolden them and turn weakness into strength.

For some, this has proven wildly successful, with exponential growth, and increases to bottom lines.

Take Weetabix. Once a staple of British breakfast routine but with fresh, flavoursome newcomers breaking into the cereal game, Weetabix became a bit old hat, a bit boring.

They could have rounded up the bigwigs and said hey, you know what we had a good run but let’s call it quits.

But somewhere in the room, there was a bright spark with an idea. “Why not, instead of conceding to our mediocre reputation, choose to embrace it?” Mental. And so, ‘Weetabix Week’ was born. Real-life people share their favourite ways to jazz the cereal up. Fresh fruit, toppings, yoghurts; this clever marketing strategy pivoted the entire game.

Another example can be found in Aldi. Its famous ad campaign that placed their products next to big, branded names with the message ‘Like brands. Only cheaper.’ — Wearing the perceived lack of quality on its sleeve drew in consumers from higher-priced competitors.

Travel company, Ryanair, who offer knowingly inferior flights but at a drastically reduced price, cashed in on its weakness (quality of service) and turned it into a strength (price). They realised that its target audience cared more about saving money, than feeling special. Sure, people complain, but they’re also getting a steal, which is way more important to their needs. So they put up with it.

Countless brands have embraced this philosophy and have seen results.

It won’t work for everyone, of course.

If you’re a luxury style brand like Gucci or Porsche then your success is heavily reliant on brand perception.

For these heavy hitters, it’s crucial that consumers buy into the value of the product, they need to build desire otherwise the illusion is shattered. It has to be ‘perfect’.

These are just a few examples of well-known brands taking their weaknesses and flipping the script, turning weakness to benefit.

Think about your own brand or the ones you interact with.

Can the same thinking be applied? Would it make it stronger and more appealing to your audience?

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