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Episode 57 – Can Your Brand Go “Too Far?”

Brand Archetypes
Brand Archetypes
Episode 57 - Can Your Brand Go "Too Far?"

Is it possible for a brand to go “too far” with their messaging – even when they are staying on brand?

Kevin and Amy discuss their thoughts on this podcast episode.

What word would you use to describe a Jester brand that’s too Jestery? (Ridiculous)

How about an Outlaw brand that’s too Outlaw? (Dangerous)

A Neighbor brand? (Lazy or Uncaring)

It is in fact possible to go too far in one direction with your brand. However, this is NOT a problem for most brands.  Most organizations don’t go far enough with their focus for this to become a problem.  But, as you get into this idea of archetype branding, you’ll find yourself pushing your ideas farther and farther out to the edge where you may encounter some of these issues.

If you think about how a brand stays true to a strategy, you have to do a couple of things really well:

    • 1- Actually have a strategy (think archetypes)
    • 2- Focus on just a couple of powerful, emotion-based ideas
    • 3- Forego all other ideas that might come along that are not aligned with this strategy

So, if you think about it, a brand can only go “wrong” if they break one of these rules. Allowing a negative idea too strongly into your mix is actually the same mistake as not having enough positive ideas. The mistake is #3 – Not being aligned with your established strategy.

For example;  Which is worse, a Jester brand that isn’t really funny (not enough positive stuff), or a Jester brand that isn’t taken seriously by a large chunk of their audience? (too much negative ‘stuff’).  Both are bad and both are demonstrating they don’t understand their own strategy well enough to find that sweet spot.

The first step in avoiding this problem is to THOROUGHLY understand your strategy and keep tabs on where you are relative to the plan. For anyone who’s starting this process, check out the pages written for your archetype.  There’s a super quick SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), which talks about some of the dangers to avoid.

Bottom line:  Create a strategy, stick to it, and check in frequently enough to know you’re still on track.

When Your Message Starts to Feel “OFF”

A BIG clue that you’re off track is when your words and messaging start to feel “off.” You might have purchased one of our word banks or have created your own list of brand words that you’re sprinkling throughout your content.  This might not be enough. It’s still possible to write copy that, although it has a few of the “right” words, it has too many words and phrases that steer the tone in the wrong direction.

Part of your strategy of staying true is to read EVERYTHING that’s written with the view of verifying that you’re on-brand.  Mistakes should pop right out.

A cautionary note:  These powerful ideas are, by design, intended to elicit powerful reactions.  

Expect that a small percentage of people will have a negative reaction to your approach.  This is natural.  So, part of figuring out if you have a problem is getting a feel for how many – what percentage – of people are having a negative reaction.   If it’s just 1 or 2 percent, you’re ok.

Depending on how big your audience is, this can be deceiving.  I had a Jester restaurant client in a major metro area push out a pretty wild video and they immediately got a couple of dozen calls and negative comments.  The manager went a little into freak-out mode.  I asked him, “how many people was it sent to?”  He said, “around 10-15,000.”  (that’s around 1/10th of 1%).  Then I asked, “What’s the reaction of the other 99.9% of the recipients?”  He said, “They love it and think it’s hilarious.”  He calmed down immediately.

A Quick List of Pitfalls by Archetype

The Jester: Being seen as so ridiculous that you can’t be taken seriously in the biz

The Outlaw: Not being able to be trusted.  When fear creeps in, it’s bad. 

The Artist: Being too artsy-fartsy. Becoming too ungrounded in the “real world”

The HeroGoing too far looks like being braggy, or full of themselves. 

The Neighbor: If your message is too strongly “relax, take it easy”, you might come off as condescending or ineffective.  The fear is you won’t get the job done.

The Guru: Having a holier-than-thou, air of superiority.  That can be super off-putting.

The Mother: Being preachy or judgemental

The Magician: Being too froo-froo, esoteric … not grounded in reality.

The Innocent: The fear here is one of naivety.  The world is complex and you just don’t get it.

The Explorer: A lot of people are resistant to change.  Pushing new ideas too hard can push some people away. 

The Lover: Being overtly and overly sexual.  Note: It’s easier to go too far in the U.S. than in other parts of the world ….like Europe, where sexuality is more open.

The Ruler: Power is great … unless you come across as a total (dick head, douche bag, ass hole — you pick your favorite)


Questions? Call us! … Are you feeling like your brand is stuck in a rut and you don’t know what steps will get you out of it?  Contact us and we’d be happy to nudge you in the right direction.

Word Lists: $29.95


Kevin & Amy

Kevin Skarritt and Amy Zander are the co-creators of the Brand Archetypes podcast and co-authors of the book by the same name. Explore the world of Brand Archetypes and find out how they can transform your company!

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