The deep growl of a rumbling motor shakes the ground as you open the throttle, exhaust fumes billowing out behind you. You zip up your well-worn leather jacket, heading out into the great unknown with reckless abandon. You don’t care about authority, you make your own rules.
Yes, this is what we would define as a rebel. But it’s not exactly what it means to be a brand rebel.
Then again, it isn’t too far off either.
By definition, a rebel is a person who resists authority, control or convention. There are tons of famous rebels in our history.
William Wallace who fought for freedom from the British. (I think it’s pretty obvious you have to yell freeeeeeeeeedommmm here). Gandhi, who led the movement for independence. Rosa Parks who stood up to racial discrimination. Oh and need I mention, Luke Skywalker?
Rebels all have one thing in common—they want to change the world.
But what is a brand rebel?
A brand rebel is someone who wants their company to change the world. They are innovators who believe their company can make a difference in people’s lives and communities. They want to disrupt their industry and realize that in order to do so, they need to rebel against convention.
Brand rebels know that being like everyone else doesn’t change the world. They live outside of the comfort zones their industry has set, often rebellious, thriving on change and struggling with set boundaries.
They want to be uniquely themselves, they want to make a difference, and they constantly challenge status quo.
Brand rebels are dreamers, doers and innovators.
Now why would a company want to shake things up, you might ask? Why not just be professional and do what all the others are doing.
Why not even (gasp) copy the other company doing the same thing as you? It’s already been done so wouldn’t that be easier and safer, and you’d be just as successful?
Yes, you can create success being the same as everyone else. You can compete on price, product, location or service and be as successful as your competitor. You can copy, imitate and follow trends, and obtain results.
What you won’t have is that spark. That je ne sais quoi that makes you jump out of bed in the morning. That passion that spreads through people like wildfire.
Brand rebels attract people who want things to be different. People who have experienced one sided or untrustworthy relationships with industry competitors, or who just crave a company that is authentic, a company with ingenuity.
Because of this, brand rebels find themselves naturally surrounded with people who think the same way, believe the same things and stand by the same values.
They attract employees and customers who just dig their vibe, resulting in deeper connections. They create a community around them of people who they trust, and it’s proven that people who belong to a community are happier, more engaged humans.
So the Pinterest quotes really are true—your vibe attracts your tribe.
For those of you who are ready to shake up the status quo in your industry and show people that you are ready to become the type of business that can make a difference, here are five steps to take to become a brand rebel.
1. Uncover what makes you unique.
What are some of the unconventional differences about your company? What is the opposite of all your competitors? What makes you a bit of a black sheep? Are you doing something new or moving away from traditional industry trends? Play to those unique identifiers, being different is an asset.
2. Authentically care about making a difference.
But wait. Don’t be different just for the sake of it, you also need to strongly believe that what you do actually makes a difference. Find that passion for bringing goodness into the lives of those around you, and light it up.
3. Stand for something.
Here comes the hard things. It’s easy to say you believe in something, it’s not as easy to stand up for it. Once you find the core values that your company stands for, you need to defend and speak up for them.
4. Don’t let your industry define you.
I’ve fallen into this trap before. I see other companies in my industry doing something, and I think I must do it too. But a brand rebel must consciously choose a different and often less conventional direction.
5. Shout who you are to the world.
Okay brand rebel, now’s your time to shine. You need to stand up and passionately announce who you are to the world. You can’t be a rebel by being quiet, your job is to disrupt, change and challenge.
Do you still want to be a brand rebel?
I have to warn you this is not the easy way to manage a company or a department. Trust me, I’ve walked in these rebel shoes. There will be days of doubt, of struggle, of wondering if you should just take the easy route, if you should let your values slide just this one time. There is a strength of character required to transition a company into a brand rebel.
But, battle scarred rebels, I’m telling you, the effort and time you take to differentiate your company, to become worthy of a community, to be a company with values that stands up and defines their industry in a different way—a company that changes the world. Well, that is something worthy of screaming freeeeeeeeeedommmm.