Small business, forget cool just be you

By June 22, 2014Branding

Have you ever wondered why whether it’s a small business idea or even individual, what starts off as unconventional or odd becomes mainstream and even fashionable?

It’s a phenomenon that has always intrigued me.

I was present at a business expo event which consisted of a number of slick corporate stands promoting businesses with few interested participants. At the back of the event was a not so slick, less put together stand that had the crowds drawn to it like the smell of a fragrant orchid on a July summers day. The stand in question was relaxed, didn’t try too hard and hadn’t the best publicity material, but it was the place to be.

The location that was once ‘the best kept secret’ because it offers something ‘different’ knows it is a matter of time before the secret is out. The guy who does not fit in but is comfortable in his own skin soon convinces others he is onto a winner.

Having the confidence to be different and not waiting or seeking out the badge of approval from the majority takes courage. Whether a company or individual, when we stick to our guns and are true to ourselves, what happens? Instead of being swayed by the masses, it’s the masses that are swayed to us.

View this process:

Authentic Expression →Cool →Mainstream → Outdated

‘Cool’ always arises from someone’s interpretation of an authentic expression.  As soon as something is labelled cool however it is already on its way to becoming outdated. Why? Because others will try their hardest to replicate that little piece of magic.

The dictionary definition of cool in this context is: fashionable, attractive or impressive

My reinterpretation of this definition: You see something that we don’t see but we like it.

A year from now the other businesses at the event will attempt to incorporate that which was ‘different’ about the stand mentioned. It won’t of course have the same impact because it would now be second hand and that which was ‘different’ would have likely become mainstream.

What does this teach us? The only business owners who are not affected by the worry of becoming outdated are those who express themselves authentically with little concern of winning the vote of the majority. Of course we need to be in tune to our customers and clients needs and what our competitors are doing but we don’t want to become something that we are not in the process.

Are we free to follow our own values or are we easily swayed by the masses never really knowing at what stage of the process we are; cool, mainstream or outdated.

Everyone can be cool. That’s another’s interpretation. Authenticity on the other hand is never open to debate.


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