“It’s OK to be disliked? I can’t afford to be disliked.”

We’re all involved in helping businesses strive to become successful whilst those businesses (hopefully) help people make informed choices about what they do and don’t allow into their lives. Because that’s where we’re at now. We need permission to play a part in people’s lives. We can no longer just shout our way in and expect people to listen.

So, to be successful, it seems vitally important to make sure our product or service is liked by as many people as possible doesn’t it? To give ourselves every chance to succeed. Especially with finite budgets and ever increasing channels and technology.

Not sure I agree. Not sure brave brands agree. People are individuals, let alone segments or groups (and don’t get me started on how we collectively seem to have decided ‘the millennial’ is a homogenous entity. Anyway, that’s for another day but let’s say I’m with Mark Ritson).

What happens if we try to appeal to as wide an audience as possible (and what was all that targeting for if we do so)? Well, there’s a good chance what happens is the equivalent of staring at a blank screen – nothing. The creative we execute is how we get through to people, it’s how we demonstrate we can meet their challenges or add positive value.

Brave brands know this.

With a bewildering array of companies competing for people’s love it’s hard to get through. Especially if you’re afraid of being disliked, and think the answer is to have safe messaging that doesn’t convey who you are.

But that takes me back to the fact people are different, not one homogenous mass. They form their own opinions. And they’re not all the same. So, with safe messaging you won’t be liked by as many people as possible. Because if you do try, your message and creative will lose any edge, any angle or single minded focus. It won’t have one, how can it? You’ve watered it down to avoid alienating people.

That’s why you need to have an opinion. To stand for something. To have conviction in what you offer. You need to be brave with your brand messaging. You need to have a view about what you’re communicating. People need to understand what you believe in to evaluate if you can help them. They need to take you into their heart as well as their head. Inevitably, some people aren’t going to like it. And they might let others know.

But here’s where it’s OK.

If your point of view is true to your brand, they aren’t the audience you’re looking for and your product or service isn’t for them. But if you’re clear and single minded in communicating your point of view, people will understand it. And there’ll be plenty who see the value you offer, and engage with you. After all, you’ve targeted who you’re communicating with haven’t you?

You’ve also achieved something else. You’ll be getting talked about. You’ll avoid falling into that huge mass of ‘wallpaper’ the very people you were trying to please are indifferent to and couldn’t care less about.


Be brave with your brand messaging. Create messaging people don’t like. Don’t create bland messaging that doesn’t stir a single soul. To do that brands and their creative teams or agencies need to be brave, they need to become brave brands themselves. Feel a little uncomfortable yourself about what you share with your audience. Because then you’re doing something different. You’re giving people new reasons and new ways to see how you can fit into their lives and how you can help them.

It’s OK to be disliked. Because you’ll be liked at the same time – by the people you want to engage with you.