What Doesn’t Fit

Give clarity to your brand by communicating what you don’t do.

Diana Lillicrap 8.11.2021


I love puzzles. One of my favorites is a good Sudoku where you work to fit nine numbers into a series of boxes. A strategy I often use to solve them, is to think through what can’t work in a particular box. In essence, what doesn’t fit. 

That’s the thing about finding clarity. Sometimes when you realize what doesn’t fit, the answer to what does fit becomes more apparent. As humans, our brains are wired to see patterns. Once we understand a construct, we know how to interact with it. When we can see what fits and what doesn’t fit, we feel clearer about the big picture. This concept applies to branding too. Customers will understand you better if they can determine what items don’t fit in your box.

Why customers might be confused

There are many reasons why your customers might not be clear on what does or doesn’t fit in your offerings. You might be selling something complex that’s generally hard to understand. Or you might be selling something your competitors don’t or in a way that goes against norms. Changing preconceived ideas or wrong assumptions requires a little work. Here are a few ways to build clarity around your brand by communicating what you don’t do. 

State it

It’s simple, but effective. Say what you don’t do right up front so you can quickly address any misunderstandings. We use this technique on our own site, listing what we don’t do. And we hear repeatedly that our clients like this clarity laid out in black and white.

Show it

If what you do, or don’t do, goes against what is expected or normal for your industry, it might be helpful to share it in a visual way. Using a process diagram, a product illustration, or even icons with lines through them can quickly communicate a lot.

Shine a light on it

Sometimes the most effective way to change perceptions is to get a little playful. If something is causing continued confusion, you might want to poke fun at it or embrace the quirkiness of your brand. Famous campaigns like “Got milk” humorously changed its perception of being a product that is only for kids and Geico has successfully used a gecko to turn brand confusion into powerful brand awareness.

Whatever your approach, keep it simple and straightforward. Remember the goal is to give order, structure, and clarity so customers can easily solve any puzzles they may see related to your brand.

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