We all tend to embellish reality at one time or another. Perhaps making something sound better that it is can be called optimism. When it comes to marketing, we rely on embellished reality and push the limits on what is reasonable and what is obvious fiction.
It’s all in the positioning
As a life long marketing professional I have been in the business of embellished reality, helping companies become the best possible version of themselves and often making them seem better than they actually are. One may call that lying, stretching the truth, or outright bullshit. Marketing professionals and franchise leadership often refer it to as brand positioning.
“Think of how you want your brand to be valued by your customers and the world five years from now, and let’s position you as if you are already there” is what I’ve always told clients at the forefront of a major branding initiative. Many would argue that your brand is as much about personality and character as it is about your product or service offering. People relate to and make judgments about a brand often based on their brand positioning with little to no actual brand experience.
Implied vs. expressed
Great marketers have become masters of implying certain capabilities, company culture and marketing share. We make global or vague statements that imply a certain fact, but can have multiple meanings based on context. Aspirational positioning statements and taglines are created to make consumers believe things that may not be provable under scrutiny. I’m not saying that all brands intentionally mislead consumers, it’s just they want to position their brand in the best possible way. When a brand does have a reason to boast, then I am the first one to make sure that their customers know about it.
Believing your own B.S.
We all have our moments when it comes to allowing our egos and goals get the better of us. I’ve worked with over 125+ franchise organizations my 28 years as a marketing professional. What I have come to learn is that some franchisors confuse embellished reality with the true facts. It doesn’t make them bad people – it makes them human. In reality, embellished reality is often a good thing because it drives people to achieve more. The taco shop that claims to have the best tacos, will ultimate be challenged by their customers to have the best tacos or be ridiculed .
Where the rubber meets the road
In closing, I applaud companies that make the food in their food photography to look it’s very best and claim to have the best customer service in their industry. I also challenge them to find unique ways to position their brands based on their core deliverables. Building a brand requires control and consistency. Customers are smart, they know pretty quickly if you are embellishing reality. Yes, you may still be successful with less accurate positioning when recruiting new customers. Keeping them will require you to deliver on your promises.