Branding Mistakes

What Type of “Heat” Does Your Brand Have? – Branding Mistakes

When it comes to marketing we all want “Brand Hotness”. That special something that resonates with the masses and gives you that extra word-of-mouth or viral buzz that money can’t buy.

Marketers have used everything from kitsch to controversy to drum up that extra oomph from having some heat” on their brand. 

In professional wrestling, there are 3 types of “heat”. As a rule of thumb, if you’re the heel or the villain, the more “heat” you have on you the better.

Genuine Heat:
Genuine Heat (aka Red Heat) is the amount of hatred you as the bad guy can roil up within the crowd to get them to boo, pay to see you get your ass kicked, or—in the most extreme cases (most recently on Long Island with Maxwell Jacob Friedman)—get them to call the cops to try and have your evil ass arrested.

branding mistakes - cheap heat

But for Supervillains, not all heat is “good” heat.

Go-Away Heat:
Villains who lack the panache or an authentic connection with the people in attendance can quickly rack up the worst type of heat, which insiders call “Go-Away Heat”.

With “Go-Away Heat” you, as the antagonist, have indeed done your job in getting the crowd to hate you but they hate you in such a way where they just want you to—you guess it—go away.

When the theme music hits for a villain with Go-Away Heat the only crowd reaction is usually a rush to the hot dog stand as it gives them a perfect break in the action where spectators are no longer emotionally invested in who winds up getting their teeth kicked in. Nobody wants Go-Away Heat on them.

Cheap Heat:
Cheap Heat is reserved for the villains with virtually no talent, comedic chops or charisma. Left to their own devices, they flounder in front of a crowd and try to anger them by using cheap (commoditized) tactics such as trashing the crowd’s hometown, calling the opposite sex residing in the town ugly, and/or saying all in attendance are fat and out of shape when compared to their villainy visage. Yawn.

In branding and differentiation, I’ve gone to bat many times against the claim that “any heat is good heat”. Essentially brand managers will defend their position that “as long as you remember the brand it doesn’t matter why it happened, it just matters that it happens”.

It’s simply not the case. It is, however, a great philosophy to follow to ensure your next branding and awareness campaign doesn’t begin to accumulate “Go Away Heat” for your company.

In my early days of marketing, I would attend local networking events. At one particular event, we got to the obligatory point where attendees received 60 seconds or so to give their elevator pitch on what they did for a living; a woman lined up before me got her chance. She hopped up on top of her chair and proclaimed how she was a professional marketer. She went on to proclaim that since marketing was all about being remembered she was clearly the best at it because for the rest of the night, everyone was going to remember what she did. She was, as she put it “the crazy marketing lady who jumped up on her chair”.

Boo! Cheap heat!

Was she right about being remembered? Obviously, I’m writing about it over 20 years later.

But did she accomplish her goal?
No, the total opposite in fact.

Branding Mistakes:

For me, the definition of branding is simple:

BRANDING: “A memory someone has of your business.”

That memory could be visual (a logo, a color), auditory (a catchy jingle), a smell, an experience, etc.
Most marketers stop here. They single-mindedly go off into the memory-making business.

The all-important second step is knowing that the most powerful memories are feelings
(the most powerful feelings are primal, something so basic a caveman would understand).

What our lovely chair-hopping guest did not take into account was the feeling her brand conveyed; which, for me, was total cringe.



It is now over two decades later and I still feel the slight breeze of secondhand embarrassment (that feeling you get when seeing someone other than you bomb in front of a crowd) when I think about her presentation. Definitely not a feeling I want to be associated with my brand.

SAAB spends millions of dollars not only to get me to remember the brand SAAB but also to equate it with SAFETY.
Coke does the same except they want to be equated with HAPPINESS.

If your dream mic-drop moment in branding is to be giving your best Don Draper impression in front of an easel with a provocative photo aside a brilliantly unforgettable play on words, well, I’ve got some bad news for you.

If you are only thinking about the first step in the branding process, which is creating a memory, you may end up not selling your brand, but instead selling a buttload of hot dogs to prospects grabbing an early lunch as they flee your establishment.

Click here to learn how one man went from the verge of unemployment to a top star with some expertly crafted Genuine Heat.

Jesse James Wroblewski

Differentiation Consultant

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