I'm going to start keeping a list. It's going to be a collection of marketing posts where authors choose to say that brands should never do something, or always do something.
One of the things the world has taught us, particularly over the last 20 years, is that nearly everything isn't black or white: it's shades of gray. Part of learning and empathy is that things are, mostly, situational.
The latest in my feed: A brand should never use a hashtag. Right, it makes no sense for the World Wildlife Fund to hashtag campaigns in an attempt to connect people around the world with animals or issues. Nope, WWF is a brand, and they should NEVER use them.
What about #LikeAGirl? Nope, never.
Examples of "never" are everywhere. Like how a brand should NEVER use a brand extension. Because Disney had no business creating Disneyland.
You can find the same for "always".
Never and Always constrict thinking. They're most prevalent in presidential election politics, of course. Which is such a lovely topic to follow.
Sometimes I wonder if authors and publishers choose Always or Never thinking because our industry can sometimes lack confidence so we take dramatic stances in response...
One of the things that's nagged me about advertising--the industry I love--throughout my career is that there is no official certification that agencies or practitioners need to get before doing the job. Lawyers and architects show the confidence of their extended education. Advertising professionals, on the other hand, don't have anything.
But I'm quickly coming to one positive outcome of this: there's no ordained and proper way to do things. Channeled correctly, that openness is a blessing for clients because it means that a (good) agency must deeply study the brand, the business problem, the audience needs, the marketing opportunities and create a tailored solution from both proven theories and new ideas.
Always and Never have cautious roles here for once they're gone we increase our odds to make things distinctive. Approach solutions with 'yes and.' Embrace 'perhaps' and 'what if.' Get rid of the devil's advocate. Create ambitious things like this, this and this.
Of course, it is incumbent on good practitioners to know and understand the well-proven theories for only then can we use them, or know how to break from them. They help us think. But there are no shortcuts. And that's what Always and Never are... shortcuts.
It's good to understand the foundational reasons that someone might say Always or Never. Then, adorn yourself the ability to agree and use the theory sometimes, while at other times, break the shit out of either when the problems and opportunities are pointing you to do so.