Your Brand Needs Enemies

Strong brands incorporate stories into descriptions and explanations of who they are and what they stand for. And the best stories have some kind of villain or antagonist that is defeated by a brand and its customers.

Why is this noteworthy? “Bad guys” create conflict and stress—which make stories more exciting and attention worthy. And when these challenges are defeated, audiences (your market) have increased admiration and respect for the heroes (your brand and customers). Who wouldn’t want that?

The enemies of your brand don’t need to be direct competitors. In fact, framing your brand communications around competitor comparisons is just asking for retaliation—after all, your brand can be portrayed as an enemy as well. 

Instead, look to a wide range of things that people naturally view with suspicion or recognize as menaces. These include giant faceless corporations, cookie-cutter products, impersonal service, high costs, poor quality, threats to health or safety, and more.

It usually doesn’t take much effort to incorporate narratives of how your brand has been and continues to be a hero/heroine in the face of adverse forces. Your brand lore and founder stories probably already contain accounts of how your company or organization was created to solve a problem, fill an unmet need, or offer a better solution. These may also be reflected in your mission statement or explanations of your core values and purpose. 

Even better are stories of how a customer overcame an obstacle or somehow improved their life through your brand. These can be featured regularly in your current marketing communications and engagement platforms.

Any story worth telling has a negative element that creates tension and conflict, as well as someone who resolves them or comes to the rescue. You can never go wrong by positioning your brand to be that someone.