Hunter S Thompson said, “There is no honest way to explain [the edge] because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over”.
Drug addicts, psychopaths and billionaires spring to mind. Yet there is an edge to every playing field, brands included. And whilst it may appear unnecessarily risky for brands to ride the edge, things couldn’t be further from the truth.
In the business of branding, big fish occupy the middle. They occupy the middle because they define the middle. It is here in the center that cost is the biggest player. Businesses lock heads in a bidding war and brands play for nothing but numbers. The number of social media followers. The number of website visitors. The number of views and clicks and comments, regardless of how bland.
In the middle, the messages are ordinary and the competition is rife. Followers are paraded around like cattle and spectators are hardwired to make decisions fast and without remorse. Consequently, brands spend majority of their time patching holes and have little time to spend building more seaworthy boats.
Out on the edge, the seas are calmer and the competition is weaker. Brands spend less time on the megaphone and more time in conversation with their tribe. It means they have the opportunity to be more honest and human. They also have a lot more fun.
It’s this genuine fun that stirs passion, and this passion that brings with it a whole world of fans (not to be misconstrued with followers – followers are in for themselves, fans are in for the cause).
On the edge, fans turn out in the dozens for the honour of playing guinea pig, and whilst their numbers are a fraction of the hordes that gather in the middle, they stand closer and stick around for longer.
Hunter S Thompson built his brand on the back of riding the edge. He wrote for the libertines. Those who turned out accepted his rules wholely and signed up for life.