“No way, that won’t work – we’re a cybersecurity company”. That was the initial response of our company’s board members when we first proposed that the CHEQ brand should be exclusively pink. “Cybersecurity is about safety, protection, strength, science… Pink is the complete opposite of that”.
Well, here we are – two years later, and CHEQ is one of the “pinkest” companies out there. When you think of the term “pick your battles”, you wouldn’t imagine we’d fight our board over the color pink, but boy did we. Why? Because this was more than just a choice about the color of our brand – it was a choice which would determine our company’s culture and DNA. So, what are the underlying principles behind this seemingly unconventional choice?
1. F*ck best practices
Any decision made by a tech company could easily be derived from industry best practices. There are best practices for visual brand identity (like “cybersecurity companies shouldn’t be pink”), best practices for hiring, for sales and for marketing. The problem with best practices, is that they will, at best, get you “up to par” with the incumbent competitors. But being a disruptive tech company is about winning, dethroning the incumbents and changing an industry. There is no way to achieve all that by simply following what everyone else is doing. So, our advice to you – rapidly develop an acute allergy to best pract
2. Learn the blueprint and then do the opposite
While “best practices” address smaller, tactical norms – every industry has a larger, more strategic “blueprint” which most companies tend to follow. A good example of this is the insurance industry, which for centuries had a “blueprint” for what the business model should look like. Only recently, a truly disruptive insurance company – Lemonade (who are coincidentally a pink brand as well), decided to chuck out the old blueprint and flip the business model on its head. The traditional model was all about deterring customers from filing claims, so that they can collect the premiums without having to payout. Lemonade instead encourages customers to file claims and promises the fastest payouts using their automated AI. At CHEQ for example, we’ve looked at how SaaS companies structure themselves, noticing that the majority of resources are dedicated to sales. We knew we couldn’t beat our competitors at their own game, so we structured our company around product and marketing, where we felt we held the unique advantage.
3. Be iconic, visually
There are so many tech companies out there today, that it’s really hard to standout, even if you have a disruptive product and a unique value proposition. Companies which can create a unique and compelling visual identity are so much more likely to get noticed on our cluttered news feeds. A truly unique color scheme and iconography can help imprint your brand into the consumers mind while generating a feeling that “this company is not like all the others”.
4. Ditch the MBA jargon
There’s something excruciatingly painful about hearing intelligent directors, VP’s and execs, many of whom are graduates of the world’s finest business schools, talking exactly the same. Nothing puts an audience to sleep at a conference more than hearing a bunch of people who all use the same lingo and the same storytelling structure. At CHEQ, we’ve extended our “pink” mentality to our discourse, where we try to disrupt the way conversations, presentations, social media engagements and other interactions are conducted. It’s about removing unnecessary formality, it’s about being genuine, it’s about raising subjects most people wouldn’t.
5. Understand the Irony of this article and completely ignore (almost) all of it
As I was concluding this piece, I couldn’t ignore the underlying irony of an article which details the “best practices” of how to not follow “best practices”. It’s a bit of a mindf*ck, I know. So, don’t be pink (get your own color) and don’t ditch the MBA jargon because we said so. The only real takeaway from this, is that if you’re following in the footsteps of others, you might (kind of) succeed, but you won’t be disruptive, and you definitely won’t win. So, as I said earlier – Learn the blueprint, study it, memorize it… And then do the complete opposite.