Heros and villans

Of course we all want our brands to be heroes – or do we? Sometimes we need brand villans – the brands we love to hate. We see numerous media personalities from Simon Cowell to Alan Sugar making a nice income from being the personality we love to hate.

Of course there is little mileage in just having a brand that is universally disliked but considering for a moment the ‘brand-as-person’ model, we all know people who we don’t particularly have affection for but maintain a grudging respect – our hard-case older brother who scares us, but also scares any bully who picks on us. The tough lawyer we hire because he is more aggressive than the lawyer we set him against. Sometimes people want a villan to do their dirty work.

There are also the businesses who carve a niche, perhaps in a distress purchase end of the market, whose corporate personality we dislike but see it as a necessity to providing the service we require – some budget airlines for instance. Michael O’Leary has cleverly created brand differentiation by not pursuing the position of a loved brand with Ryanair.

In a world full of heroes (or wannabe heroes) we need the odd villan to remind us there are more routes to brand success.


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