Have you got a voice and a point of view? Great—find a stage and use it. This is the mentality of our comedic friends. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, their ability to draw a crowd and willingness to look foolish is license to confront typically off-limit topics.
The world needs comedians to do this. The way they take the risk to step into the sensitive space between just-right and too-soon helps us process. How do we make sense of violence, racism, sexism, stereotypes, etc.? It's the same way we process grief—we pause, mourn, reflect and then we find a way to laugh...together, as a community.
As a brand, you want loyal fans. You want to stand out from the competition and be known for a higher purpose. Well, get out a notepad and start taking notes. These four comedians will show you how to get it done.
Here's how Lucille Ball, Margaret Cho, Megan Amram and Eddie Izzard define branding...
The Quote: I'm not funny. What I am is brave.
Who Said It: Lucille Ball
Who Are They: Lucille Ball, a darling of television history; is most well known for her lead role in I Love Lucy. Ball was an architect in the early days of feminism, as the first female to show her pregnancy on TV, half of the first interracial couple on TV and the first female owner of a production studio.
Our Perspective: Lucille Ball was a trailblazer who tight-walked the fine line between comedy and cultural change, using her jokes to confront the female role in the 50’s and 60’s. Her brand of physical comedy, still uncommon in female comedy, was unlike anything a woman had ever done on television. Her pioneering boldness holds a place of fame in entertainment history. One of the core challenges all brands face is how to differentiate among steep competition. It's a good start to become known for the quality of your product, in Lucille's case her comedy, but the next step is to gain attention for an artful delivery. Being the first at what you do offers a solid foothold but also requires the balls and bravery to innovate (see what I did there?).
The Quote: The power of visibility can never be underestimated.
Who Said It: Margaret Cho
Who Are They: Patron Saint of Outliers, Margaret Cho, has crafted a career of comedy, theater and literature dedicated to shouting down stigma. Also, she was in that AWESOME Nicholas Cage movie, "Face/Off."
Our Perspective: Revealing, this is Cho in one word. Constantly, brutally, hysterically, painfully revealing. She has taken the risk of alienating those who don’t relate to her by putting her voice behind the issues she cares about. Her fans care, too. They love her for her transparency, colorful comedy, but most of all, they know what she stands for. This kind of relationship between customer and brand is both coveted and rare. How can you generate a cultish-love affair with your customers? Take Cho's advice, peel back the layers.
The Quote: You have to write a ton of bad stuff before you know what you're good at. And that's what some people I think have trouble with, the thought of getting past the bad stuff.
Who Said It: Megan Amram
Who Are They: At the time of publishing, Megan's most recent tweet read, "My blod is typo." This profound confession really resonated with her audience, generating 569 retweets and 1,900 likes. Don't let her pithy one-liners fool you though, Megan is a Harvard grad, author of a parody science textbook and writer for the hit TV show Parks and Recreation.
Our Perspective: Do me a favor? Visit this link and watch Megan bridge the gap between humor and intelligence with ease. But don't let her performance fool you, no brand comes out the gate perfect. It takes time to craft a multifaceted, genuine brand that will attract the right audience. You’ve got to work at it, make a tons of mistakes and take some risks. Is it scary? Absolutely. But what's worse is playing it safe and never discovering your own voice.
The Quote: I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from.
Who Said It: Eddie Izzard
Who Are They: A well respected cross-dressing actor and comedian, Eddie is known for his highly intelligent yet whimsical monologues. Perhaps his greatest feat however came in 2016, when he completed 27 marathons in 27 days (a total of 707.4 miles) at the age of 54 to raise money for charity. P.S. he's not considered to be an athlete, but, never one to submit to stereotypes, he overcame this obstacle and has raised over £1million in the process.
Our Perspective: One of the main reasons a company invests in brand is to set themselves apart from the competition. Rather than duke it out in a price war, companies who invest in brand can elevate themselves to the rank of category leader, where they can begin to charge a premium for their product. A core element of this brand differentiation is called positioning and the best positioning is not only unique and own-able, but will also minimize the competitive advantage of your foe. Consider Izzard's reference, "where the history comes from." In the battle for greatest nation in the world, this designation is a position that the United States can never win; they'll always be second best when compared to the seasoned countries of Europe. The U.S. can own "new" all they want, but they'll never have more history and tradition.
Continue reading: Branding Definitions #33-36: The Introspectors
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