Are You Going To Tell Me You're Funny?

Do you have any memories of something you said or did years ago that still makes you twinge? I do.

I was completely infatuated with a girl in college. She was gorgeous, confident, outgoing. In other words, she was out of my league and I knew it.

That didn’t stop me from giving it the old college try.

I saw her at a party, alone, surveying the room. I moved in and quickly said hello. In no time, I could tell my forced small talk was going nowhere. I could feel her faint interest waning. I knew I had to convince her I was a fun guy, and fast.

“I’m a fun guy, I really am,” I said.

Ugh. I could feel the blood rushing to my face. I was powerless to stop the breathy, uneasy nerd-giggle leaving my mouth. Worse, I could see her surveying the room again in the hope of rescue. That was the last time we ever spoke.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. One that extends naturally to the world of advertising and branding: Don’t tell me about yourself as if you have me cornered at a party.

There’s a saying that expresses it best: “Are you going to tell me you’re funny? Or are you going to make me laugh.”  

As advertisers and marketers, we make that mistake every day. We tell customers who we are rather than aspire to be those things. To me, it’s the fundamental difference between advertising and propaganda. 

So I am recommitting myself today. I hereby re-pledge to help my clients find their voice and embody the brand they hope to be.