True or false: to be a successful brand, you must always strive to be bigger and better. You have to tack on all the bells and whistles your competition offers. You have to sell to the Fortune 500 to be noticed.
False. The most important thing you need to be successful is to pump your company brand full of badassery.
“Badassery, what’s that?” you might ask. Let me explain with a badass example you may already know and love: Basecamp.
Basecamp is a project management software that uses simple features to help small teams manage their workflow easily. At just 16 employees spread over 8 different cities, they’re intentionally small and virtual. They don’t create five-year plans, follow a budget, or invest in advertising or salespeople.
They’re a $100 billion dollar company used by over 3 million people around the world.
Clearly, Basecamp doesn’t do things the conventional way—yet they offer a premium product that’s wildly successful. That’s the definition of a badass brand.
How can you channel badassery into your own company branding like Basecamp does? We’ll give you a few tips to get you mobilized.
Step 1: Get Off Your Ass
Are you familiar with the phrase “patience is a virtue”? When it comes to building a badass brand, forget you ever heard it.
Being a successful entrepreneur means feeling late to the party with every new idea, and succeeding with it yesterday. The sheer drive can be exhilarating. It can also be immobilizing. Don’t let it be.
Basecamp started out in 1999 as a three-person web-design consulting firm. A few years later, its founders noticed that current business project management tools on the market just weren’t effective. So in 2004, they launched without a clear-cut business plan or vision. The only thing they knew is that they would build something better.
Instead of sitting around contemplating the consequences of creating their own tool—will it succeed? Will people like it? Will we lose money?—they grabbed their idea by the balls and did it. The Basecamp you see today has evolved from real experience.
The first step towards badassery is as simple as that: taking a first step at all. Once the wheels are turning, you’re already well on your way.
Step 2: Say No.
How can you tap into that same badassery in a way that fills your industry needs? By saying “no” to the haters.
Basecamp gets a lot of rap for providing less than its competitors. But in doing so, they stand by their mantra of simplicity. If they added every new feature their competitors use, they would reject the crux of their brand.
Stay true to what you’re best at, and don’t try to please everyone. If you do, you’ll water your service down just like everyone else. If you’re really providing something of value, your ideal clients with line up to pay for it. Those that don’t probably aren’t the right fit in the first place.
Step 3: Rock the Market
Badass brands take a bold stand—even if it alienates some.
Hell, it should alienate. Basecamp’s unconventional success makes people uncomfortable. Why wouldn’t you add features your customers are asking for? But in sticking to its guts and living up to its promises, it has no need—or desire—for following the norm. It has a dedicated following that isn’t going anywhere. And it doesn’t worry about clients that outgrow it, because there are plenty of new companies clamoring for the simplicity of its service.
Brands that please everyone don’t disrupt. They’re lucky to be noticed at all.
So go ahead—get off your ass. Do something ballsy. Piss some people off. And win.