How your brand can avoid adding to the fear.

At the time of this writing, we are experiencing divisive and turbulent times in our country that are unlike anything I have ever seen over more than 5 decades.

As we watch events unfold, it’s easy for us to dwell on all that is wrong. It can consume us. Which is why we need to step back and ask, “What lesson lies within all this?”

Anyone who works with a brand knows the power of fear. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is one of the most potent motivators for us humans. And it’s not the only fear that brands exploit. Here are a couple of examples:

  • The fear that people will think less of you because of the way that you look. (Used by beauty, personal care, and fashion brands as well as auto brands and more.)
  • Fear that you could run out of money or end up being a burden to someone else. (Used by insurance and financial planning brands and even mortuaries.)

Fear causes us to think of what we might lose. We’re wired to avoid losses. In fact, loss aversion is a more powerful motivator than the prospect of gaining something. In other words, we’d rather avoid a potential loss than pursue a potential gain. Even when that potential gain is greater than the loss!

Fear is powerful. There is no doubt. But its effect fades. Brands have to continue to stoke the fires of fear. And, after a while, people become desensitized by the fear-mongering. Brands have to dial up the fear factor just to elicit the same response they got from us when they first began.

We really don’t need any more fear today. Fear leads to division. And division leads to hate.

No brand can solve the divisiveness that exists. But any brand can play a role. A brand can choose to position around inclusion and collaboration. It can choose to embrace positivity and hope as opposed to fear.

The quickest way to shift to this stance is to clarify and fully embrace a purpose. With a purpose as your guiding principle, the brand focuses on the difference it can make in a life, a community, or even the world.

Fear causes us to contract. Purpose enables us to blossom. It encourages us to join together to make things better for all of us. It creates a dynamism that doesn’t deplete like the negative energy that fear generates.

And quite honestly, what would you rather your brand align with? Do you want your brand to be associated with fear? Or would you rather align with something that gives people hope and a feeling like they can be part of something larger than themselves?

Now is the time for your brand to embrace its purpose. To embrace hope. In fact, you could say there has never been a more critical time.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

Originally published at on October 2, 2020.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store