In some ways traditions can be great. Without them, there would be no casual Fridays, and no wake-and-bake Wednesdays.
There'd be no annual trip to the cabin, no Halloween decorations—and we certainly would miss out on watching Grandma get shitfaced on ‘nog every December. Truly the most wonderful time of the year.
Traditions give us something to look forward to, and provide a weird comfort in a world that’s full of uncomfortable things.
In other ways, however, tradition can really hold us back. When we do the same things over and over without really questioning why, it can get us stuck in a place we don’t want to be. Few people question their traditions, and instead continue to do things the way they’ve always been done. After all, if it's worked before, why not for always?
When a tradition runs incognito, that is, disguised as something else—it runs the risk of being considered with undue seriousness. Call it company policy, order of operations, the chain of command, or a “business casual” dress code (whatever that even means).
These are all traditions, codified in organizations around the globe, each individually accepted as “the way things are done.”
And while traditions can be helpful, fun, simplifying forces in a world that largely runs on schemas and assumptions—the opposite can also be true. When an organization is blind to these traditions and their effects, logic and productivity can take a backseat to tribal signaling and faff.
The Danger of “Safe” Marketing
This is especially frustrating in marketing. Clients, despite an often profusely-stated desire to innovate, embrace a rebellious tone, or “think outside the box”—are still at their core a very traditional bunch.
"We do not use contractions." "We only use blue and one less interesting shade of blue." "We do not say a swear." "Thou shalt not make the audience think, question, or otherwise cause undue wrinklage to their smooth, placid brains."
Does this work? Has avoiding ruffled feathers ever won a heart or changed a mind? Has it ever made the proverbial panties (or briefs) drop? No. But more often than not, it’s what makes the customer comfortable.
Do These Pants Make My Qualifications Look Big?
Part of this obsession, perhaps, comes from the myth of “professionalism” and what that actually means to people. If we dress a doctor in jeans and a hoodie, they somehow become incapable of practicing medicine. If we write a blog rife with the slang, idioms, and fucking swear words, obviously no one will want to read it. Right?
Really we’re all just naked emperors (free the nipple btw) trying to make it in a cold, cold marketplace… err... kingdom?… …. or I guess maybe like, an imperial palace, but you also have to sell things? Like an imperial indoor bazaar. IDK, analogy over.
So we’re all pretending that fanciness and formality equate to qualification. When instead, being relatable (or, dare I say, interesting) tends to attract customers, rather than deter them.
The Shit You Say vs How You Say That Shit
I mean, think about it. Who wants to read a blog called “Gastrointestinal Vitality: A Study on the Role of Hue in Fecal Samples and their Correlation to Digestive Health Markers”?
Like three people—and they’re all Poop Doctors. Don’t Google it, it’s definitely a thing, and that’s absolutely what they put on their business cards.
Alternatively, who wants to read a blog called “What Your Poop Color Says About Your Digestion”? Everyone. More than three fecal specialists anyway.
Did the content change? No. Are the cited studies and quotes from medical professionals going to vary? Probably not. So what’s the point of the boring title? Who are these uptight people you’re trying so hard to impress?
Businesses need to embrace the fact that they are going to reach a broader audience when they let their content be as free and conversational as the people they’re targeting. And no matter the industry or profession, people don’t just drop their personalities when they don their lab coats.
Unbutton that Content, You Minx
Let’s face it: we’re all made of the same floppy skin-and-meat suits, hurling around the sun at 67,000 mph. We want the same things—to connect. To have community. To be understood.
So let your marketers run free, scamps that they are. They will thank you by producing better, more human work that actually has a chance of making an impression on someone.
And let’s stop pretending we’re too good for jeans. We’re fucking not.
At GhostCMO, we know how important it is to put your best verbal foot forward. From branding and positioning, to messaging and copywriting—we know what it takes to create powerful results for your business.