I had a cuppa the other day with my friend Ceri and wound up as a hand model on the innocent blog. We have an old-fashioned barter going with innocent, and Ceri dropped off a whole heap of smoothies in their astroturf-covered van in return for some handsoaps. Soaps for smoothies. Not a bad deal.
Any way, we also had time for a nice chat, and talked about how many companies are getting so risk-adverse in the down-turn. Risk-adversion often takes the form of committees weighing in on ideas to sand the edges so that they're "safe".
But, I think that the "safe is risky" motto even applies in a downturn. Actually, I think it especially applies in a downturn. Because the status quo won't cut it when consumers are reframing how they look at the world. Nimble brands will take advantage of this time to find new opportunities.
In the credit crunch marketing conference I mentioned last week, one of the speakers talked of the importance of becoming the "peacock in a crowd of pigeons" (another way of describing the "purple cow"). The easiest way to remain a pigeon is to take the "safest" path.
It reminded me of that old story about the artist who was asked how he knew how to sculpt a horse. He said, "easy, I just chisel away everything that doesn't look like a horse."
I think that brand mediocrity often comes about this way too. Just chisel away everything that's interesting, remarkable, or "risky". We all need to be careful with the chisel in this environment.