Ever realized that there’s a tipping point of success with branding? It’s that point when a brand suddenly ‘takes off’ and becomes an icon. During the Thanksgiving holiday, I picked up an old book I had lying around, and re-read it. It’s Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Gladwell describes the tipping point as “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” Whether it is an outbreak of crime, a surge in popularity of a newly published novel, a sudden fashion trend, or a tragic increase in a suicide rate, social influences can fester into a crescendo of action. According to Gladwell, persuasion starts among ‘sales’-type individuals who spark and fan its flames. The ‘stickiness’ or addictive quality of a trend – the thing that makes people get hooked – relies on circumstantial situations and also sometimes predisposed human characteristics – both environmental and genetic. Ever notice that there are times when you tend to do things that are suddenly out of character? Situational factors like being in a hurry can influence and altar your normal reactions and behavior. When it comes to making everyday decisions – choices about what to buy or what movies to see – we are stricken by certain situational vibes that offer us the urge to buy or experience something different or unique, or jump on the bandwagon of a trend. In most instances, the ‘vibe’ happens as a result of that tipping point with a trend.
As a marketing professional, the concept of finding that tipping point, is exciting. When it comes to social or cultural attitudes, human behavior is altered by other human beings – the ‘mob’ mentality. Gladwell offers insight to how to reach the tipping point, using certain influential and knowledgable people to set the pace and serve as trailblazers. Gladwell goes so far as to name and describe three types of influential people:
- The Connectors. These are the type of people with thousands of personal Facebook friends – the ones who seem to know everyone or at least know someone that knows them.
- The Mavens. The Mavens are always the first to try something new after researching it or fully understanding the need. They are ‘in the know’ – just educated, smart. Your ‘Maven’ is that one friend who you call to get advice on buying health insurance, what kind of medicine to take, or how to cook a ham. They just know stuff and they are methodical about doing it right or getting the right thing.
- Salesmen. Salesmen are natural born influencers due to likable or magnetic personality traits. They’re so good at persuasion that they don’t even need facts. You just believe them. They’re cool and authentic.
There are other factors such as assembling certain sizes of groups to reach. If you are trying to connect to a tipping point using visual marketing campaigns, finding the influencers of the categories I listed, and presenting creative content to the followers of those influencers is the key. Oh, and knowing where those groups are in order to reach them is also essential.
Malcolm Gladwell, Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker
What Gladwell has to say about human influence is offering inspiration for marketing strategies.
Rather than trying to rewrite the book here, I’d like to share with you my Top Five Quotes from Gladwell’s Tipping Point, which offer more insight about the power of trendsetting and spreading ideas:
- “There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it.”
- “That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.”
- “There are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them.”
- “If you want to bring a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior…you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.”
- “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”
Much of what Gladwell says about the tipping point, the explosion of a trend or movement, links the groundswell and spark of that movement to critical individuals. Once a critical person with a particular set of influential traits promotes the trend, the rest will follow and, the match ignites, and the wildfire spreads due to the fueling of group persuasion.
How does this discussion about influential people and groups relate to the type of marketing and branding work we do at Masterpiece Web Designs / Masterpiece Branding? We help our clients reach their target audience online. We create visual and verbal content that appeals to the influencers they need to reach. We will help you tell your story using key words that will bring traffic towards your brand, and with relevant graphic messages to captivate your followers. The sticky-addictive factor depends on your ability to be true to your brand – authenticity. We will have discussions with you about your audience, how you have reached and related to them in the past, and we’ll help you figure out how to relate to them moving forward. Influential people are all over cyberspace. Endorsement and reviews from the most influential people offer much credibility.
Our Branding Approach- How it is inspired by Gladwell & the Tipping Point concept
Here are MY five ‘tipping point’ branding goals which directly relate to the five Gladwell quotes already listed:
- Package your identity in a way that is simple to recognize but appealing in style and design to your target audience.
- Align your product or service with established trends as a solution or companion to current popular activities.
- Get acknowledged by the key people in your target area – give the Connectors, Mavens, Salesmen the ‘tools’ they need to spread the word.
- Nurture a community of followers by somehow making them feel special or original by taking part in what you offer.
- Stay engaged with those unique, consistently influential people that genuinely and authentically support your campaign.
See, branding is so much more than just coming up with a logo design. It involves discussions about authenticity, your audience, and what sets you apart. To ignite a firestorm of popularity, you’ll need to tap into the talent of a few influencers, create small groups of enthusiasm, and produce targeted, orchestrated messages to hold their attention. Want to talk about setting goals for achieving your own tipping point for success with a service or product you’re marketing? Give us a call.