Be Odd but Be on Brand

Let your brand suggest odd choices.

Wendy Ruyle 12.15.2015

Being distinct in the marketplace is essential these days. But weird for weird’s sake won’t get you anywhere with your customers. See how two companies are standing out by standing by their brand values on Black Friday.

Why be odd?

Studies show that odd numbered listicles get more clicks than even ones. There’s a reason for that—humans find comfort in even numbers, so odd numbers stand out as unique and interesting. And that’s exactly what you want to do for your business. You need to do what others won’t do and own it—because having a smaller, more loyal customer base can be more valuable than a large un-loyal base. The trick is to get that oddness to match your brand.

Be provocative

Cards Against Humanity is quite a provocative product. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a card game like Apples to Apples that pairs up the most un-PC phrases you can imagine. Not a game you want to play with Grandma, to say the least. However, they have generated a loyal following by doing the opposite of what every other table top game producer is doing and targeting an audience that shares their love of crass humor.

They are famous for their Black Friday antics. A couple years ago on Black Friday they raised their prices by $5 instead of offering sales. They ended up selling more than they did the previous year. And received tons of free press. This year, they sold “nothing” for $5 a pop. They raised $71,145 because their fans thought it was funny. Fans were rewarded with a complete list of how each employee spent their bonus money (a lot of it going to charity).

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are many people out there who hate Cards Against Humanity for a variety of reasons. However, they’ve focused on the ones that love them. And it’s paid off.

Be inspiring

REI did something “odd” this year for Black Friday as well but with a completely different feel. They closed all of their stores to allow their employees to head outside. They even paid their employees to do so. With the hashtag #OptOutside, they spread their message of stepping outside of the box store mentality. And meanwhile, by the way, they expressed the very essence of their brand, which is all about the outdoors. They rejected the traditional trappings of Black Friday, just like Cards Against Humanity, but did it in a way that was true to their brand.

They also provided a whole toolkit for those wanting to get in on the fun—photos to share on social media, a database of outdoors activities to do searchable by zip code, and a gallery to see what everyone else was doing that day.

They got tons of press for it and lots of good will from their loyal fans.

How can you stand out?

So, how can you apply this to your brand, and not just on Black Friday? Think about these questions: What can you do that no one else is doing in your marketplace? How does it align with your brand values? Then, what tactics can you use to spread that message?

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