While preparing to be a panelist for a discussion on marketing, I pondered two questions the organizer asked us to consider:
What are examples of the best brands?
What are examples of the worst brands?
While these may appear to be opposites, I don’t think they are.
See, best and worst appear to be opposite categories like highest and lowest, or fastest and slowest. Think about the “best dressed” and the “worst dressed” lists following award ceremonies. Or the “best performance” and the “worst performance” during an Olympic trial. These are opposites, right?
Maybe not. In both of these examples, the subject being defined is known to you and me. One celebrity may be labeled the “worst dressed” — but she’s been seen on the Red Carpet. One athlete may have turned in the “worst performance” but he did it 1/100th of a second behind the “best performance” in the world. And he earned a multi-million dollar sponsorship to boot.
No, I think that “best” and “worst” are actually relative terms, often within a very narrow category. What has been bothering me about the questions regarding brands is that we begin thinking about which brands are category leaders and which brands are category laggards. But we’re still able to name and consider the brands.
So, I think the real question should be:
What’s the opposite of the “best” brand?
And the answer is: an unknown brand.