Why to be colourful on Black Friday

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Black Friday is a black day for a brand consultant. For this is the day when brands choose to compete on price – rather than value. Businesses that might have spent the year carefully positioning their products and nurturing their customer-base revert to the kind of commodity trading we’ve spent more than a century getting away from.

Competing on price goes against everything that I spend time working towards with clients: meaning, customer engagement, trust, loyalty. Today, it’s simply a race to the bottom.

Brands may sell, yes, but they’re most certainly selling out at the same time, which can take time to recover from. Price itself is an expression about your brand – as important as how you package your goods or where they retail. Vast discounts seed doubt in customers’ minds as to whether it was worth the full price in the first place.

But more than that, is Black Friday, ethically, something you want your brand associated with? That’s an important consideration for long-term brand building too. It’s interesting to hear that this year both the consumer website Which? and Citizens’ Advice Bureau are warning consumers that deals may not be what they seem. This kind of gamification of the market is well worth suspicion and those brave brands that eschew it will gain customer trust from taking a more responsible stance.

My heart sinks when premium brand enter into this bun fight that’s just not their scene. Similarly, seeing small businesses and independents feel they need to join in rubs the wrong way. These are the businesses whose very point of difference is that they are alternatives to the mass market.

As a responsible brand, it is possible to put a twist on this black day. I admire the brilliantly conceived ‘Just A Card’ campaign and its ‘Indie Week’ running up to Black Friday which encourages people to support independent makers and designers in the run up to Christmas.

It’s worth a think. Is Black Friday really something that you want your brand associated with? Or could you put a more interesting spin on it which expresses your brand point of view and personality? I like the idea of being colourful instead.