Lipstick on a Pig

We’ve all heard the saying “it’s like putting lipstick on a pig,” with the main assumption being that you can’t hide the fact that a pig is a pig.  However, let’s say a pig has magnificent lips (stay with me here) . . . if you focus in on the lips, people can’t see the pig.

Branding and messaging are similar.  While I hope you aren’t marketing a pig (unless that’s what your customers want), I assume that your product/company is not perfect.  No product or company is perfect. However, while we don’t deny imperfections, we certainly don’t market them. Fix the imperfections everywhere possible, but focus on your strengths.

This applies to more than R&D.  While you want to improve your products and company at all times, your also need to show the best you possible.

To show the best you possible, there are three preliminary steps:

1.  Find Your USP (Your Gorgeous Lips)

2.  Discover Who You Are (Your Skintone)

3.  Choose Appropriate Messaging and Graphics (Choose a Matching Lipstick)

3.  Keep Your Focus (Paint within the Lines)

The Lips:  Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

What is the best thing about your product or company?  Find it. That one thing is your unique selling proposition, or your lips.  Hopefully it’s not price-oriented, unless you’re Walmart. Ideally, it’s a proprietary secret sauce that everyone loves, or the best quality lightbulbs anyone can buy or maybe you’re a company with over 90 percent customer satisfaction.  It needs to be something that your competitors can’t easily or quickly duplicate (which is why pricing is dangerous–they can change their price to beat yours overnight).

Research (i.e. Find out What Your Tone Is)

Now you know what to call attention to, let’s find out what your skintone is.  Each product or company tends to naturally have a certain “feel” or “swagger”.  Some are fun and vibrant, some are trendy and cool, some are solid and conservative.  Don’t be embarrassed about who your company or product is. It’s best to know your “coloring” and pick matching lipstick instead of trying to be something you aren’t and having the lipstick seem unnatural or, worse yet, make a fool of you.  Survey your customers. Give some open-ended questions and maybe a few questions where you list ten adjectives and let them choose the one that best describes you. Again, don’t be embarrassed about what you end up with–unless you’re a seedy company and your customers know it (can’t help you there, but you should change).  Know who you are!

Messaging and Graphics (Choose Your Lipstick)

Once you know who you are, choose matching lipstick.  In other words, choose messaging and a look/feel that matches who you are and your USP.  For example, if your customers think of you as a stable, conservative, trustworthy broker, don’t go with Harley Davidson photos and bike gang talk.  If you are known as being fun and thinking outside of the box, don’t go with standard corporate blue and boring text. Make sure every word and graphic fits your unique “skintone.”

Keep Your Focus (i.e. When Applying Lipstick, Stay in the Lines)

Once you’ve decided who you are, and what kind of text and graphics you’ll use, you need to start painting and stay in the lines!  Keep your focus! You want to keep things simple and keep all the focus on the lips through the elements you’ve chosen. No matter what, don’t let anything distract you or you’ll end up with lipstick all over the pig and no one will even see those gorgeous lips through all the makeup smeared everywhere!  For instance, say you chose your company’s USP and at the last minute, someone adds a new little feature to the product….don’t change your focus unless this new item is going to put you on the map! Keep your message simple and stay within the boundaries your choose: remember you’re focusing on those lips.

If you find your lips (your USP), find your skintone (who you are), choose a matching lipstick (the right image) and paint within the lines (keep your focus), you CAN put lipstick on a pig and keep the focus on the beautiful lips.

Now, let’s get out the lipstick and paint away!

Leave a Comment