Woody Allen didn’t read his film reviews, which suggests two things: 1. He didn’t care what the critics thought, and/or 2. He didn’t want the critics to influence his work.
It’s important to know who your customers are and what they want. An empty theater an artist does not make. However, you don’t want your customers to lead you somewhere outside of what you do, who you are. These are the guardrails that define you, your brand.
We struggled with this at Starbucks many years ago, when the company was enjoying an extreme growth spurt. The temptation was great to stick anything near the register that would sell…like Jim Henson finger puppets, for example.
But there was a reckoning that followed, when the company took a hard look at what it was doing, and decided things like finger puppets had crossed a line.
The same happened at a local Starbucks store that gave dog biscuits to its customers in the drive thru: sure, customers liked getting treats for their dogs, but was it okay to then start selling dog toys with the Siren logo?
The empty vessel is a notion that comes with branding your company name: the name is innocuous (like Apple), and you assign the name to your product, then fill it out over time with who you are, and what customers can come to expect from you.
As important as knowing who you are is knowing who you aren’t, and you can only realize this by going out of bounds.
The blogosphere is full of these vessels. Many are unfiltered, direct from the artist to you, farm-fresh. Find your edges, then start filling in.