You Can’t Please Everyone — and Shouldn’t Try (Isn’t That a Relief?)

Everyone has a different personality. There are those you seek out at a dinner party and others you trust in a pinch. They are probably not the same person.

The same is true with brands. Every brand has a personality, but that doesn’t mean everyone will love it all of the time. In fact, if a brand tries to be all things to all people, chances are it won’t mean much to anyone. The middle has proven to be a less than ideal place to be for a number of brands recently, from J.C. Penney to the Gap. It’s better to have a strong core of supporters than a field full of passive bystanders that don’t actively dislike your brand, but don’t love it either.

The Center is Shrinking

Recent opinions are moving away from the 80/20 rule, where 20% of your audience is thought to make up 80% of your revenue and towards a ratio of 95/5 today. That is a much smaller target and makes finding and focusing on your core audience even more important than ever before. The fact that there are more channels available for your audience makes focusing and refining your efforts even more important. If you’re not accurate, it’s more likely than ever that you could miss a 5% target completely.

Brands need to have the discipline to ignore the masses that aren’t part of their most valuable audience. It feels counter-intuitive and like they are backing away from opportunities, and in turn, revenue. The reality is that huge efforts and expense required would deliver minimal gains, if any, while possibly diluting the appeal to the most valuable target group.

That’s why it’s critical that brands pay strict attention to the Five Gates of Branding as they plan and consider their go-to-market strategies.


Identify what your customers want, what your brand does best, and what it does better than the competition, and build from there.


What do you actually give or deliver to customers? This is the ultimate benefit you provide, not your product.


Make sure that your efforts encourage the next generation.


Study to ensure that the language you use is the language your audience recognizes to be consistent with your brand.


Be in the right place at the right time. If you are diligent in the other steps, you should be leaning in the right direction.

You can learn more about these gates in our ebook, The Five Gates of Branding, Opening the Path to Renewed Brand Growth.


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