Does “It’s all about you” really work?

We’re naturally attracted to people and brands that stand for something, and we’re suspicious of those that try to mold themselves around our preferences.

Imagine this. You’re on a blind date.

You: “So, where do you want to go?”
Date: “Wherever you want to go.”
You: “Maybe dinner? What kind of food do you want?”
Date: “I want to eat whatever kind of food you like.”
You: “Okayyyy…how about Thai?”
Date: “If you like Thai, I like Thai.”

How’s the date going so far? Are you excited about this compelling new person in your life?

Or are you dreading the next few hours you’ve committed to spend with this characterless shell of a human who derives his or her character from whatever you say?

I’m reminded of this scenario every time I see yet another brand fall prey to the ever-seductive “It’s all about you!” approach to branding.

Some recent examples:

I can understand why companies think this is a good idea. I’m sure the pitch went something like, “blah blah individuality blah YouTube blah kids these days blah social media blah blah Twitter blah you you you….”

But here’s the thing: as a consumer, I’m really not looking for more brands to grovel at my feet and tell me it’s all about me. Whenever I hear “You’re an individual!”, I want to respond with “Yes I am. Now who the heck are you?”

So instead of making it all about your customer, figure out what your brand is really all about, and then be that as compellingly and as vividly as you can muster. The customers will come, and they’ll love you for it.

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We're not looking for brands to grovel at the feet of consumers, we're looking for brands to effectively communicate who they are and what they stand for.
Forty's founder and CEO started out as user experience designer, but these days he spends his time leading our team to greatness. Outside of Forty, he regularly speaks at industry conferences and workshops, and writes frequently about the intersection of design and business. Meet James Archer ›