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Avocados Are Violent: Don’t Build Your Brand On A Fad

May 14, 2020

Mexican gangster with duffle bag full of money gun in waistband has arm around frightened avocado wearing cow tee-shirtblank vertical space, 16 pixels highAvocados? Violent??blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

There must be more to the story.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You’re right– there is.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I did the above illustration for a Wall Street Journal article about food fashions. Here’s how it begins:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

“You can’t be a vegan if you eat avocados,” said a teenage brother to his sister in a family that I know. “Avocados are violent.”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

His point was that her supposedly ethical decision to replace butter on her toast with avocado was hypocritical: The avocado trend has made life dangerous for many Mexican avocado farmers, thanks to the rise of violent cartels that control the business.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

My first thought: you can never be 100% pure in your choices. There’s always a wrinkle, and there’s always someone ready to
say: “Gotcha!”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

The author goes on to mention almond milk and quinoa, both hot food trends in recent years. Turns out there was a catch with both.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Demand for almond milk meant a lot more almond trees got planted in California. Thirsty almond trees. Which contributed to the state’s drought.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

World demand for quinoa pushed up the price six-fold. Result: the Bolivian farmers who grew it could no longer afford to eat it. They had to switch to cheaper, less nutritious carbs– like instant noodles.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Which made me think of the law of unintended consequences: actions always have unintended effects. Sometimes good, often bad.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Negative effects can put an end to fads: almond milk drinkers and quinoa eaters started feeling guilty and making new choices.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

A brand can get lucky and turn a huge profit on a fad, but it’s a mistake to build a brand on a fad. Fads come and go.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Fads also come and go in social media marketing. The Shiny Object Syndrome. What Andrew Davis calls FOMOOASP: The Fear Of Missing Out On Another Social Platform.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I’d put podcasts in that category. The most successful ones seem to center on news, politics, comedy, entertainment. The usual suspects. I don’t see them as a particularly good choice for brands. And yet a lot of solopreneurs have started podcasts.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

They wind up interviewing their friends, and promoting each other. I think their time would be better spent identifying and pursuing new clients. Just my opinion.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

A more subtle danger with fads: they can distort your brand voice and confuse your target audience. Suddenly you’re trying to be something you’re not.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Case in point: when I first acquired Photoshop and was learning to be a digital illustrator, I got smitten with photo-illustration: using bits and pieces of photos to construct an illustration, and blending it together seamlessly.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I got pretty good at it. You can see some examples at the bottom
of the Portfolio Thumbnails on the right. Like this one for The Partner Channel Magazine.blank vertical space, 32 pixels highparody of Singing In The Rain movie to show importance of trust in business

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI still like it. It’s cool. I remember how proud of myself I was when I got the rain effect. But it took so much time. And looking at it now, I’m sure there are copyright issues since I lifted Gene Kelly from a famous movie.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Sometimes I’d have to abandon a good idea because I couldn’t find a photo that would work. I was suddenly losing my edge because I was trying to do what a lot of other people were doing. So I gave it up and went back to real illustration.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

So beware of fads. Keep your brand voice consistent. You’re trying to become an easily identifiable and authoritative source.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

And don’t waste your time trying to be perfect. There’s always a wise-guy teenage brother out there waiting to say, “Gotcha!”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, editorial, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Daniel Reed, Creative Director, Square 2 Marketing

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