Fit In Or Stand Out
Dr Seuss once said “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
He makes it sound simple but in truth it isn’t. Why? Because human beings are constantly torn by the need to “fit in and stand out”. And this apparent paradox explains so much about the way we all behave.
In fact it is a problem for all social animals. To be accepted in your society you have to fit in but to get noticed and to achieve higher status you have to stand out.
We see this paradox play out in business and marketing. Businesses act with the same instinct when it comes to their brands. They want their brands to ‘fit in’ observing the language and behaviour of the category but they want to ‘stand out’ to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
For most of us ‘fitting in’ is a more powerful motivator than ‘standing out’. That maybe because being snubbed by your society is riskier than failing to increase your status.
And again we see this played out in the corporate world. So what happens is standing out gets diluted: maybe a different colour or a different typeface on the pack. The business thinks it is creating stand out but really it is just fitting in. In brand marketing just like life, so often we have to fight our human instinct and internal biases if we are to be different. And if differentiation is important in business then standing out really needs to trump fitting in.
An important rule in life is not to kid yourself. Is my brand fitting in? Or standing out? It’s an important question to answer honestly.