Once you know your company’s three or four values, what’s the best way to begin to practically apply them to your marketing?
Let’s turn to Hollywood. After all, who does a better job of creating characters that guide us, move us, and make us believe them?
Screenwriting instructor David Freeman introduced me to the concept of a Character Diamond – the values that shape the way a character thinks, acts, and sees the world.
Give a character less than three values, and she’s a wooden caricature not worthy of sustained interest.
Give a character more than five values, and she’s all over the map. She’s unpredictable to the point of distraction and disinterest.
Great characters consistently manifest three to five values that magnetically attract us to them – particular if we share those values. We see ourselves in them, and it makes us want to follow where they lead.
The best characters have one value that’s… off. Freeman calls this characteristic a “skewed opposite.” A skewed opposite refers to an unusually incongruent-but-still-relevant value that gives the character its secret sauce…
Consider Sherlock Holmes – a brilliant, puzzle-solving, antisocial man. Those three values align with one another – giving Holmes a depth we can recognize and find interesting.
But he’s also a degenerate drug abuser. He has demons. He has a dark side. This little something that doesn’t quite fit the rest of his archetype – and his conflict with it – makes him one of history’s great fictional characters.
Your company – your brand – is a character, too. Consumers look at the way your company thinks, acts, and sees the world.
The best way to ensure consistency, and to begin to build a strong brand, is to build your company in your own image, and find that one great thing about you that doesn’t quite fit.
For our company, our brand diamond looks something like this:
Helpful, Clear, Wise… all three are in the same pew at church, aren’t they? These are three things that help make us easy to understand, but it’s our fourth – playful – that lends a bit of cayenne pepper to the chocolate.
We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we want to attract companies who feel the same way… and we want to repel companies that don’t feel the same way. Too self-serious? Pbbbbbt. We’re not interested. Life’s too short. Best of luck to you.
Notice it’s a carefully chosen skewed opposite that often determines the level of attraction or repulsion, so choose wisely!