4 Core Branding Lessons Catfish Can Teach Us
Entice with imagery. Catfish know what it takes to entice the object of their desire into that first fateful exchange. Online romance starts with the profile pic, so eye-catching imagery (in the form of sexy selfies featuring someone else’s washboard abs) is just what they need to stand out in a sea of less chiseled suitors.
Branding takeaway: Call it shallow or unfair, but looks matter and your brand is no exception. For businesses trying to compete for consumers’ attention, aesthetics are key to capturing attention. First impressions count and your brand’s visual identity can make the critical difference between a consumer’s decision to learn more about your offering or “swipe right” and move on to one of your competitors. Janky or dull design just won’t do if you want to stand out and pique the interest of prospects. However, it’s important to note that a killer logo is only one component of your visual identity. Your brand’s essence is defined through every visual element, including typography standards, color palette, photographic/illustration style, and visual guidelines.
Seduce with storytelling. While catfish may initially use sex appeal to lure their love interests, their ability to woo with words is what seals the deal. Catfish are superb storytellers, often creating entire universes (complete with fake jobs as well as fake coworkers, siblings, spouses, children, and friends) around their online identities. Their stories are colorful and their lives are dramatic, with continuous plot twists that capture their online lover’s imagination and draw them in again and again. They are masterful at weaving tales that evoke powerful emotions and resonate with the individual they’re pursuing.
Branding takeaway: Although “brand storytelling” is a popular buzzword in marketing and advertising these days, it’s certainly not a novel concept. On the contrary, it’s a communication form as old as humanity, but remains just as powerful today. Companies have caught onto the fact that stories resonate with people and brands can harness the power of storytelling to connect with customers. While not intended to be used as a selling tool, you can use brand storytelling to differentiate your organization, build relationships with customers over time, and create a foundation for future content development.
But don’t tell tales. Catfish usually get busted as their stories become increasingly fantastical and difficult for even the most trusting online sweetheart to believe. As the relationship blossoms and the pressure to meet in person mounts, the gaps in their stories and the never-ending stream of bizarre excuses finally become too implausible for their beloved to ignore. In Catfish the TV Show, the person seeking answers enlists the help of the show’s hosts to discover their beau’s true identity, culminating in a live confrontation where the two meet face-to-face for the first time. In the majority of cases, the catfish turns out to be an entirely different person from the one depicted in their online profile and photos, and the catfish has some “splaining”! to do.
Branding takeaway: Authenticity and consistency are essential to the success of your brand. Remember that consumers come into contact with your brand through a myriad of channels, so your language and tone must be consistent across all of your organization’s communications. When it comes to your brand, inconsistency may create confusion and even breed distrust. Embrace authenticity and build a brand that’s truly you.
Deliver on your promises. Catfish talk a great game and keep it going for as long as possible, but they eventually reveal themselves as the frauds that they are when they fail to deliver on their many promises. For the person on the receiving end of this deception, who pinned their hopes and dreams on a romance with someone who doesn’t exist and invested a great deal of time (years in some cases) in the relationship, the betrayal is crushing.
Branding takeaway: Your brand is your promise to customers and you need to do whatever it takes to deliver on that promise. Not holding up your end of the bargain will take its toll on your brand, costing you clients, referrals, and respect. Authenticity is another key component of your brand promise, especially in the Wild West of the World Wide Web, a domain teeming with spammy, scammy con artists intent on emptying your grandmother’s bank account. Your customers want to know you are who you say you are and you’re going to deliver what you say you will. Don’t let them down.