top of page

Join 900+ Readers



Why Picking a Fight with Your Customer can Kill Your Brand


Not sure if there's something in the water - but there's been a wave of brands trying to be controversial and missing the mark.


A few weeks ago Bumble announced they were rebranding. The dating app that emphasizes female empowerment and lets women make the first move put up a billboard and an ad that seemingly shamed women for choosing to be single instead of using their app.


And a couple of days ago Copyhackers, a company that helps train freelance copywriters also rebranded but this time they called out their copywriting clients for not making $ 1 million as being a #poorwriter


One of the fastest ways to get your clients on your side with your copy and communication strategy is to point to a common enemy or challenge faced by your clients and position your brand as the solution.


But the reason these campaigns failed is simply because People don't want to take personal responsibility and we certainly don't like being told it's our fault.


We are blissfully willing to blame other people, our circumstances, the government, and everything else for our problems. But if you tell us we're to blame for our current challenges - well be prepared to either write an apology or lose a lot of clients.

You see


It's not our fault we can't shift the last 5lbs it's our hormones


It's not our fault we have no Followers on LinkedIn it's the algorithm


Having a common customer enemy is a powerful way to create a sense of unity and shared purpose among your buyers. And putting a villain in your marketing messages gives them something they can see themselves overcoming with your help.


When we align our interests with our clients, they are more prone to trust us, agree with us, and listen to what we have to offer.


And selling becomes so much easier when you and your customers are on the same side.


Nike's 2012 Find Your Greatness Campaign created a narrative that positioned their customer as a potential hero fighting against an internal Fear.


"The idea behind 'Find Your Greatness' is simply to inspire and energize everyday athletes everywhere to celebrate their achievements, participate and enjoy the thrill of achieving in sport at their own level," - Greg Hoffman, Nike VP of Brand Design and Communications

Villains can come in many forms.

Here's how to find your customers:

Think about all the obstacles that are standing in your customer's way as they try to reach their ideal destination.


— What enemies exist in your marketplace, that you can help your clients fight?

— What enemies do they already align against?

— What enemy is creating or contributing to their problem and stopping them from achieving their goals?

Possible Places to Look at:

Personal/ Internal: This could be an internal obstacle or belief your customer has to overcome to achieve their transformation - Think distraction, procrastination, perfectionism, etc Marie Kondo fights clutter


Local/ External/ Industry:

This could be their boring travel to work

Their dull 9-5

Calendly fights to eliminate the back-and-forth emails;

Asana fights unorganised management teams.


Society: This is a larger villain that is often part of a mission statement.

Oatly fights the Milk Industry;

Dove fights against unrealistic Beauty Standards,

Patagonia fights fast fashion.

By creating a common enemy, you are siding with your reader.

You become their cheerleader - their BFF.

The key is not to rant, rave or bash the enemy, but to provide an underlying theme that shows you’re all in it together.

Once you identify your common enemy put it into a story.

Teamworks "The Client" ad - does this extremely well by uniting its customers against a common foe. The ad has become one of the highest engaged promoted ads on LinkedIn.

The quickest way for your customer to become a hero is to fight a villain.


But please learn from Bumble and Copyhacker, and Never EVER blame your client.


Let me know what you think.


Who is your common villain?

P.S Bumble I fixed your copy! :)


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page