... or, to be more precise, why people and brands should have the vision of a runner.
(Please excuse my scribbles and northern colloquialisms)
You see, when I run I look a good 10 - 50 metres in front of me. It makes sense. When you go slow you generally look directly in front of you - maybe upto a metre in front. When you go very fast, say in a car, you look a good few hundred metres in front of you. (Well, all besides Mr. Feganwho when travelling on the autobahn seems to think the car in front of him won't get any closer even though he's going about 100mph faster than it and gaining ground rapidly...)
I reckon there are similarities between brands and people here... what a revolutionary thought...
The walkers are keeping themselves very safe but not really the people around them. They hold the faster people back and they're reactionary when they need to make a decision. Some are positively knee-jerk. It is, however, much easier to turn around if you need to. Even though you're looking 10 metres in front of you when you're running, the short sighted can thwart you at any point because they only see the immediate landscape. NB. Walking is boring and unimaginative. Nobody likes a walker. Unfortunately there are a lot of walkers.
When you're running you're sort of doing the job of a walker and a runner. You see, you keep one eye constantly 10 metres in front of you but you need to occasionally have a glance at your immediate landscape for obstructions that could impede your progression. When you're running it is harder to stop - there's no denying that - but you're more confident that you won't need to stop. You have more confidence than a walker because you're looking 10 metres ahead of you and because of that it's usually easier to divert an obstacle. Plus, you'll reach your destination quicker and with a sense of achievement. NB. Running is the perfect balance of risk and preparation. More people and brands need to be prepared to run, and not just talk about running.
Whether you're in a car or you're sprinting yourself, a few things are consistent. You'll keep an eye on what's going on in the distance - maybe a hundred metres or more away. If you're concentrating on that for a long time you need to sometimes look away and give your eyes a rest. Focusing that far away can't be done without the occasional glance to regain focus and context. One thing's for sure if you're a sprinter - you're going to make a statement. The problem is there is more uncertainty than a runner about whether that statement will be positive or negative for you or your brand. Before you run out of fuel you'll either crash and burn or you'll collect the gold medal. Either way it makes the headlines. NB. Sprinters have a much higher rate of injuries than runners. People remember sprinters. Sprinters sell the tickets at the Olympics.
So what am I and where should brands be in this? Well, I'm a mix of a runner and a sprinter. I like to think I progress at a decent speed, but sometimes I need to take my eyes off the road and regain some focus and context on my journey. I'm prone to the occasional mild prang but I want to run faster and faster all the time.
From a brands point of view, well, it depends on the brand and what they want to achieve. They'll obviously say they're runners but we all know they're much more likely to be walkers. As marketers, though, we should be their running coaches. We need to convert the walkers into the runners. From there the sprinters will self-select themselves but it's our job to make sure that as many brands as possible don't just walk.
Walking is easy. Walking is boring. People like runners, and they love sprinters. If you're a brand and you're not Ben Johnson, you should start running.