Someone has to hate your brand

A brand…if it is going to be effective, has to be bold.  It has to stand for something.  It has to plant a flag into the ground and stake out its territory.  A brand cannot be neutral.

Your brand loyalists will love you. But, there’s no ying without the yang. In other words, if some love you, others will hate you.  You can’t be everything to everyone and be a strong brand.

Which is of course, why we have so many “mushy middle” brands — companies who are afraid to take a stand, so they try to be everything to everyone.  Or they try to be a liger brand…a little bit of everything all mashed together.  At McLellan Marketing — we tell clients, be bold or go home!

No graphic states this more eloquently than Kathy Sierra’s visual below.

Love, love this explanation of why your brand can’t live in what we call the mushy middle!


Which is why I *love* the new Miracle Whip campaign.  They’re basically calling us out — and saying, you either love it or hate it.  Declare which side you’re on.  They totally get that some people absolutely hate their product.  And they’re fanning those flames.  Why?  To get the people who love their product to take a stand.

Check out their current TV spot and enjoy smart branding.  But then come back… because of course, we need to talk about your brand.



Okay — time to look at your own brand.  Can you define who hates you or at least who should?  And don’t get all “people who don’t want quality” should hate us.  Lame.

Seriously — it’s time you step out of the mushy middle and be brave enough to take a stand.

By the way — check out all of these stories, stats and results from Kraft’s gamble on the Miracle Whip brand.  Do you think they would have generated this kind of buzz if they did a mushy middle “everyone loves us” campaign?

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12 comments on “Someone has to hate your brand

  1. John Doessel says:

    Great read! Agreed that I’d rather take a bold stance, acquire a loyal following and deal with the negatives as they come. Impossible to avoid some people’s pessimistic behavior…

    John Doessel
    Tips on How to Develop Your Personal Brand:

    1. John,

      The truth is…. even if you adopt a milk toast, in the middle position, someone’s not going to like you. So you might as well go for the bold — and create passionate fans in the process.


  2. You’re right. There’s a car insurance here in the UK called Go Compare, and they asked an ad agency to be “as irritating as possible” with their TV spots and jingles.

    Result – huge brand recognition and a massive sales increase.

    1. John Doessel says:

      At what point does the annoying factor overtake the recognition factor? It’s a fine line.

      I am unfamiliar with Go Compare, is it a relatively new company? If so, I guess it would be make people aware and remember your brand. But is that what you want to be remembered for? Eventually Go Compare may want to reconstruct their image, and it will be impossible to shake the initial, annoying brand image they portrayed. Just something to be cognizant of…It seems to be the easy way of stimulating attention. Why not be more creative, boost exposure/remembrance, and establish a prominent brand??? (easier said than done lol)

      John Doessel
      Tips on how to develop your personal brand:

    2. Adrian,

      And of course — the ads that you find so annoying you want to scream — delight someone out there. Sounds like they’re building a strong brand. Just not a brand for you.


  3. Doug Pals says:


    Thanks for pointing this campaign out. It really does take a bold stand. I would have loved to have been in the room when this idea first came up. I am sure the discussion that followed was extraordinary.

    This certainly speaks to my place in life, but I can’t help but think, as I read the opening few paragraphs of your post, that much of what you say is what a parent tries to teach a child.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. Enjoy your week.

    1. Doug,

      I suspect that most good counsel, when you boil it down to the basics, is pretty universal and could apply to many life situations — both personal and professional!

      Thanks for stopping by to comment.


  4. Amy S. says:

    Good post, Drew. If my memory serves me correctly, I think Crocs — those ubiquitous foam rubber shoes with holes — played both sides of the fence with their “What a Croc” campaign. I think it works.

  5. Mark Delman says:

    I believe Kraft’s strategy is to create in-group feeling and the Miracle Whip haters are the foil used to galvanize the Miracle Whip lovers. I also believe Kraft is trying to convince households where there are mixed taste preferences to believe that its OK to buy two products. I’ve posted a full review to my web site:

    1. Mark,

      Thanks for sharing the link. I think the campaign has many goals but creating a stir among MW lovers is certainly one of them!


  6. Lesa says:

    In the blogosphere, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers taking a middle of the road attitude and agreeing with everything they read and comment on. This doesn’t help anyone.

    Business owner, marketer, advertising agency, blogger — some people are going to like you AND some are going to hate you. You might as well be yourself so at least you know those who like you like you for who you REALLY are!

    So, let’s all learn from the folks at MW and let more of who we are hang out.

    1. Lesa,

      Just like there is an ideal customer — there is an idea business partner. And if you pretend/fake it to get the business, you’re going to be so sorry down the road. Those are the customers who are never happy or content. And who can blame them — they aren’t getting what they bought. Instead, they’re getting the real you!


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